left biblioblography: 2013

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More On The Madness Of Muslims: Death To Infidels.

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

islamicAllah says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.  [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256]

It’s sometimes unbelievable how much evidence there is to show that religious people are just the same as anyone else: they play favorites, they indulge in hypocrisy, they demand the world be remade in the image of their specific delusion.

Case in point (Hat tip to the Atheist Republic).

IHEU Study Finds Atheists Face Death Penalty In 13 Nations - All Muslim

“The Freethought Report 2013,” commissioned by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) to study the condition of human rights and protection for atheists in all 192 countries has found that a global majority of nations do not protect the rights of atheists, agnostics, skeptics and freethinkers, including 13 countries where it is punishable by death in law. Many of these countries are signatories to the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and other global treaties guaranteeing the freedom and equality of citizens. The report was released on December 10th, which is the U.N. Human Rights Day. The study document was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council the day before.

To be an atheist or religious skeptic, or to change your religion is to face the death penalty in Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Iran, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates – all having Islam as their official state religion (In Nigeria, the Muslim-dominated autonomous states of the north have implemented Sharia law).

However, official and unofficial discrimination against atheists is prevalent even in democratic nations across Asia, Africa and the West. According to the report, "there are laws that deny atheists' right to exist, revoke their citizenship, restrict their right to marry, obstruct their access to public education, prevent them working for the state...."

The president of the IHEU, Sonja Eggerickx stated: "This report shows that the overwhelming majority of countries fail to respect the rights of atheists and freethinkers although they have signed U.N agreements to treat all citizens equally.

Religion of peace my homesick ass.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Republicans Gone Mental: Palin Slinging Imaginary Poo

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
fascism-sarah-palin-flagSo let’s see if I’ve got this straight. As if it’s not enough that Christians want special dispensations (gee – whadda surprise!), they also want to imagine some sort of war on their societally approved madness.

Case in point:

Sarah Palin: ‘Angry atheists’ are trying to ‘abort Christ from Christmas’

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, Sarah Palin said, he would probably go on Fox News to complain about the war on Christmas.

The former half-term governor of Alaska and failed vice presidential candidate appeared Thursday at Liberty University to promote her new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.

She told the audience of students that the U.S. Constitution was written by and for moral and religious people, and that nonreligious people probably were incapable of appreciating its principles.

“If you lose that foundation, John Adams was implicitly warning us, then we will not follow our constitution, there will be no reason to follow our constitution because it is a moral and religious people who understand that there is something greater than self, we are to live selflessly, and we are to be held accountable by our creator, so that is what our constitution is based on, so those revisionists, those in the lamestream media, especially, who would want to ignore what our founders actually thought, felt and wrote about in our charters of liberty – well, that’s why I call them the lamestream media,” Palin said.

She seemed to imply that Jefferson, who spent his summers at a home not far from the present-day site of Liberty University, may have been inspired by the religious college founded in 1971 by televangelist Jerry Falwell.

“Thomas Jefferson and his thinking, I believe that much of it fundamentally came from this area, having spent his summers here, having spent influential years here, two miles away from Liberty University,” Palin said. “Man, there’s something in the water, perhaps, around here – again you are fortunate you get to taste it.”

Palin said Jefferson would likely agree that secularists had set their sights on destroying the religious themes in Christmas celebrations.

“He would recognize those who would want to try to ignore that Jesus is the reason for the season, those who would want to try to abort Christ from Christmas,” she said. “He would recognize that, for the most part, these are angry atheists armed with an attorney. They are not the majority of Americans.”

Palin said there was a double standard that protected atheists at the expense of the religious.

“Why is it they get to claim some offense taken when they see a plastic Jewish family on somebody’s lawn – a nativity scene, that’s basically what it is right?” she said. “Oh, they take such offense, though. They say that it physically even can hurt them and mentally it distresses them so they sue, right?”

“But heaven forbid we claim any type of offense when we say, ‘Wait, you’re stripping Jesus from the reason, as the reason for the season,’ but heaven forbid we claim any type of offense,” Palin said. “So that double standard, I think Thomas Jefferson would certainly recognize it and stand up and he wouldn’t let anybody tell him to sit down and shut up.”

I’m not sure where to begin with this chicanery. First up, Thomas Jefferson was a closet deist – apparently, like most Republicans, Palin doesn’t fact-check before she shoots her mouth off. Secondly, saying ‘the U.S. Constitution was written by and for moral and religious people, and that nonreligious people probably were incapable of appreciating its principles’ is like saying that anyone who doesn’t drive a stick shift doesn’t drive at all – it’s a bogus claim. The ‘immoral atheist’ meme has been debunked countless times. Thirdly, that Jefferson received ‘inspiration’ centuries ago from an institution built in the 20th century is just plain bugfuck nuts. Fourth, paraphrasing a dead person to support your own views is just plain bad form. Fifthly, I personally wish there was any ‘double-standard’ favoring atheists – that’s just plain bullshit. If anything, the ‘poor persecuted’ Christians have been running things and having everything their way for far too long…for millennia in fact. And now are weeping about their loss of special dispensations.

Furthermore, their mythical man-child jebus isn’t the ‘reason for the season’. As anyone with half an informed opinion can tell you, humanity has been celebrating solstices centuries long prior to the fictional Palestinian ministry.

After regurgitating half-truths and outright fabrications for years – gee whiz, why wouldn’t any atheist get angry? It’s similar to someone from another country who has never visited your country, never read anything about it, doesn’t even speak the language, and yet that someone sees fit to lecture you at length about your own country, culture, and citizenship as if you know nothing about it at all.

It’s a pisser.

Till the next post then.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Marriage Made In Bivalvia–More Scientologists Who Won’t Clam Up

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

"How do you steam clams? Make fun of their religion." – Johnny Carsoncharles_manson_and_scientology__2013-11-04

There is perhaps few crazier ideas than that of an evil alien imprisoning alien souls over 70+ million years ago. And yet, not only does this pernicious nonsense thrive, people give actual credence to this folderol.

Scientologist wins court battle to marry in creed's own church

UK supreme court judges have cleared the way for Scientology to be accepted as a religion and for its members to marry in their own church.

Louisa Hodkin, 25, a Scientologist from East Grinstead, Sussex, won a legal battle overturning a ruling by a high court judge who had said that services run by the Church of Scientology did not amount to acts of worship.

In a judgment published on Wednesday, the court ruled that a Scientology chapel in central London was a "place of meeting for religious worship" and that it would be "discriminatory and unjust" if followers were unable to marry using their own religious service.

Hodkin said afterwards: "I am really excited. I'm really glad we are finally being treated equally and can now get married in our church." She hoped to marry her fiancé, Allesandro Calcioli, within a few months, though they had not yet set a date. Calcioli said he was "ecstatic".

Hodkin's solicitor, Paul Hewitt, a partner at the law firm Withers, said the judgment was "a victory for the equal treatments of religions in the modern world".

He added: "It always felt wrong that Louisa was denied the simple right, afforded to members of other religions, to enjoy a legal marriage ceremony in her own church."

The ruling overturns a reading of the law from a 1970 court of appeal case, Segerdal, which upheld the refusal of the registrar general to register the Church of Scientology chapel in East Grinstead as a place of meeting for religious worship.

In that 1970s ruling, the judge, Lord Denning, said he did not find reverence or veneration of God or a supreme being in the creed of the church of Scientology, adding "there may be a belief in a spirit of man, but there is no belief in a spirit of God".

But Lord Toulson, in a written judgment on the latest case, heard by the supreme court in July and agreed by three other judges, suggested religion should not be confined to beliefs that recognized a supreme deity. Such a position would otherwise exclude Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Theosophy and part of Hinduism; and Jains, Thesophists and Buddhists, among others, had got registered places of worship in Britain.

The court had heard evidence that Scientologists did believe in a supreme being of a kind "but of an abstract and impersonal nature", said Toulson.

Ideas about the nature of god were "the stuff of theological debate", he said, but neither the registrar general nor the courts should become drawn into such territory when deciding whether premises qualified as a place of meeting for religious worship.

Toulson said: "I would describe religion in summary as a spiritual or non-secular belief system, held by a group of adherents, which claims to explain mankind's place in the universe and relationship with the infinite, and to teach its adherents how they are to live their lives in conformity with the spiritual understanding associated with the belief system.

"By spiritual or non-secular I mean a belief system which goes beyond that which can be perceived by the senses or ascertained by the application of science.

"Such a belief system may or may not involve belief in a supreme being, but it does involve a belief that there is more to be understood about mankind's nature and relationship to the universe than can be gained from the senses or from science. I emphasize that this is intended to be a description and not a definitive formula."

The judge said of the approach he had taken with regard to the meaning of religion that the evidence was "amply sufficient to show that Scientology is within it".

The government signaled that the judgment could fuel a political row now there was the prospect of the Church of Scientology avoiding business rates.

The local government minister, Brandon Lewis, said his department would be taking legal advice. Lewis said: "I am very concerned about this ruling, and its implication for business rates. In the face of concerns raised by Conservatives in opposition, Labour ministers told parliament during the passage of the equalities bill that Scientology would continue to fall outside the religious exemption for business rates.

"Now we discover Scientology may be eligible for rate relief and that the taxpayer will have to pick up the bill, all thanks to Harriet Harman and Labour's flawed laws. Hard-pressed taxpayers will wonder why Scientology premises should now be given tax cuts when local firms have to pay their fair share."

Should the Scientologists get a fair shake? Of course they should. They should pay taxes, like all pseudo-philosophical nonsenses. And they should pay for their own lawsuits, costs, and all other resources they waste on crap like this.

‘Acts of worship’? Acts of lunatics, more like.

How two people go about getting married is nobody’s business but the couple’s.  

Respecting someone’s right to an opinion doesn’t extend respect to the opinion itself.

So in short, I respect their rights to have an opinion, but an evil alien overlord? Having evolved from clams? Pandering to a terrible writer’s bad fiction? Please.

Those opinions deserve nothing but ridicule.

Embedded for your enjoyment, a nice montage little clip from YouTube:



Till the next post then.


Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Accidental Metaphor Of Broken Glass – More Muslim Madness

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.Camel-urine-islam-muhammad
Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall. – Anonymous

It isn’t a tragedy per se, but a sad head shaker:

Thousands of bottles of beer smashed in sharia crackdown in Nigeria

Head of religious police warns that officers will stop consumption of alcohol as 240,000 bottles are publicly destroyed

About 240,000 bottles of beer have been shattered by an earthmover as part of a widening crackdown in Nigeria's northern city of Kano.

Alcohol is banned under sharia law, imposed in the city in 2001, but authorities had turned a blind eye to its consumption in hotels and the Sabon Gari Christian quarter.

At the public destruction of beer on Wednesday the head of the religious police board warned that his officers would put an end to alcohol consumption.

Bars in Sabon Gari were the target of multiple bombings on 29 July. The attacks, which killed 24 people, were carried out by suspected Islamist militants who have claimed authorities are not properly applying sharia law that governs nine of Nigeria's 37 states. The country is divided between a mainly Christian south and predominantly Muslim north.

Both literal AND figurative buzz-kills. It’s difficult to argue when dissent can easily be snuffed out like a candle.

It saddens me that this nonsense still plagues our species well into the 21st century. Sadder still, is it no longer shocks me.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Some Folks Just Won’t Mind Their Damn Business – Mormons Up In Arms

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasismormon-archaeologists

These damn crazies just get right up my nose:

The Mormon church won't drop its opposition to gay marriage

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as the Mormon church) recently reneged on its commitment to stay out of the gay marriage fight.

For those who need a reminder, the LDS church was the major force – financial and otherwise – behind California's Proposition 8 that passed five years ago to deny marriage equality to gay and lesbian couples. While the supreme court overturned Prop 8 this year, the issue is still very much alive in many states.

The image conscious Mormon church received such a pounding from all it did during the Prop 8 campaign that they decided they better play nice and quit all their gay-bashing. The church's own pollster Gary C Lawrence told the Washington Post that after Prop 8, the Mormon church lost 5% of its public support and was tied with Muslims as the least popular of major religions in America.

While the church's image suffered badly, the other reason the Mormon church was sitting out last year's gay marriage debates was so that it would not jeopardize in any way shape or form what was deemed the "Mormon moment". That was their long-held desire to elect the first Mormon US president, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. That plan went up in smoke after he lost badly to President Obama a year ago.

Now that Romney is not a factor anymore, the Mormon church is back fighting same-sex marriage. We discovered two letters that were read to all Mormon church members in Hawaii as the state was considering whether to legalize same sex marriage. The letters signed by high-ranking Mormon leaders asked church members to give of their "time and means" in order to defeat a bill. Fortunately, Hawaii didn't listen to the Mormon church. It passed the bill earlier this month, becoming the 15th US state to allow gay marriage.

People are, of course, allowed to have their own views on same sex marriage or any other issue. But it gets complicated when an official religious organization meddles and lobbies so prominently in politics. I sent a letter to the Hawaii Ethics Commission asking them to investigate whether there were Mormon church employees who had worked over five hours in a month to defeat the bill, or if the church had spent more than $750 on lobbying expenses. If the church met either threshold, they would be required to register more of their employees as lobbyists. We are awaiting the results of that investigation.

The Mormon church even pulled out its top law professor, Lynn Wardle, from church-owned Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. They flew him to Hawaii to testify against the gay marriage bill. Professor Wardle has long been the church's leading legal mouthpiece in fighting gay marriage across the country.

The recently released official Mormon church documents published by Mother Jones, show that church has been acting more like Exxon-Mobil or AT&T than a religion. They have had up to 23 lobbyists in 23 states all over the country working to pass laws and constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and opposing each and every marriage equality bill.

It is astounding that the Mormon church appears to use tax deductible donations given to the church to lobby and run political issue campaigns. Official LDS church documents show the measures the LDS church took to keep its involvement secret and obscure the source of its funds.

Perhaps it's time that the US Department of Justice and the IRS take a closer look at the Mormon church's political activities to determine if its tax-exempt status allows for this. If the Mormon church wants to act like a corporation and not a religion, then its income should likely be taxed.

This is a serious consideration for this century: if churches involve themselves in politics, they should lose their tax-exempt status. Imagine that – Utah might actually crumble to its knees if that happened. Hell, the Catholic Cee might very well pack up their belongings in toto and leave for the Vatican, stranding their followers.

One can only hope.

I for one would like to see religion finally brought down to an even-playing field – a country where nobody get free passes graded on societally favored delusions.

Till the next post then.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ding Dong The Bitch Is Dead: Another Liar Bites The Dust

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it – Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 4brownbullshit

There is perhaps few emotional crimes worse than pandering to a person’s grief with promises of falsehoods. And while I usually try to empathize on this sort of topic, I really can’t.

Sylvia Browne is dead.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

She was a liar, a fraud, a snake-oil salesman, a confidence man*. In short, she made millions on the ghoulish garbage known as the afterlife. Pandering to the lowest common denominator of poor education, she raked in undeserved riches with her scam. Her history is risible: let’s take a look;

Psychic readings

Browne started to give psychic readings in 1974, and performed thousands of one-on-one readings for a wide variety of groups and individuals. As of 2008, she charged $850 for a 20- to 30-minute telephone session.

More than prostitutes charge per hour. And likely less satisfying.

Browne was the author of dozens of books on paranormal and spiritual topics. She discussed a wish for people to feel that they are loved by God. Browne claimed that God comprises both a male and a female part, named Om and Azna respectively. She stated that the entity of God loves all people and living beings equally, no matter what one's specific religious or spiritual beliefs are. According to Browne, this includes atheists, people who do not believe in a god or gods. Browne wrote that people's actions and intentions define a person and soul, and that people of all religions, spiritual beliefs, and non-beliefs may go to "the Other Side", as she referred to Heaven. Browne wrote that she presented her beliefs in a way that allows readers or listeners to take what they want from her teachings and leave behind what they do not agree with.

Wow – she must’ve learned that in psychobabble city.

Paranormal claims

Browne claimed that she knew what it is like in Heaven. In her book The Other Side and Back, she says the temperature is a constant 78 °F (25.6 °C), that there are no insects unless one wants there to be, that pets go to Heaven, and that a house can be built wherever one wants. She asserted that the "other side" exists approximately three feet above ground level and at a "higher vibrational level" and that this makes it difficult for humans to perceive. Like a number of other psychics, she claimed to have been born able to perceive a wider range of "vibrational frequencies".

Browne declared that she could see angels, and that they looked similar to depictions in paintings but had different traits depending on their "phylum." She also claimed that they do not speak. Browne professed the ability to speak with her spirit guide, "Francine," and gave details of 54 of her own former lives as divined by her.

Yeesh – self-involved much, lady? So she sees shit, knows the thermostat, and claims to have had 54 lives? 54 separate personalities is closer to reality.

Here’s where the hilarity really begins:

False predictions

Browne made many public predictions which have subsequently been proven false, including the following:

  • In 2002: Browne told the parents of 11-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who had disappeared earlier that year, that Shawn was dead and had been kidnapped by a dark-skinned man with dreadlocks. Hornbeck was found alive in 2007; his kidnapper was Caucasian and short-haired. In June 2008, UK television network ITV2 was sanctioned by Ofcom for re-airing the Montel Williams episode featuring Browne's original prediction.
  • In November 2004, to the mother of kidnapping victim Amanda Berry, who had disappeared 19 months earlier: "She's not alive, honey." Browne had claimed to have had a vision of Berry's jacket in the garbage with "DNA on it." Berry's mother died two years later believing this to be the case. Berry was found alive in May 2013.
  • On Larry King Live in 2003, Browne predicted she would die at age 88. She died in 2013, aged 77.

Aye caramba! A psychic who can’t even predict her own death! Who’da thunk it?

Funnier still:

In 2000, Brill's Content examined ten recent Montel Williams episodes that highlighted Browne's work as a psychic detective, spanning 35 cases. In 21 cases, the information predicted by Browne was too vague to be verified. Of the remaining 14, law enforcement officials or family members stated Browne had played no useful role.

In 2010, the Skeptical Inquirer published a detailed three-year study by Ryan Shaffer and Agatha Jadwiszczok, examining Browne's predictions about missing persons and murder cases. Despite Browne's repeated claims to be more than 85% correct, the study reported that "Browne has not even been mostly correct in a single case." The study compared Browne's televised statements about 115 cases with newspaper reports, and found that in 25 cases where the actual outcome was known, she was completely wrong in every one. In the rest, where the final outcome was unknown, her predictions could not be substantiated. The study concluded that the media outlets that repeatedly promoted Browne's work had no visible concern about whether she was untrustworthy or harmed people. Among the predictions examined in the study were the following:

  • In 1999, Browne said that six-year-old Opal Jo Jennings, who had disappeared a month earlier, had been forced into slavery in Japan. Later that year, a local man was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Jennings. In 2003, an autopsy of Jennings' remains found that she had died within hours of her abduction.
  • In 2002, Browne claimed Holly Krewson, who had disappeared in 1995, was working as an exotic dancer in a Hollywood nightclub. In 2006, dental records were used to positively identify a body found in 1996 in San Diego as Krewson's.
  • In 2002, Browne claimed Lynda McClelland, who had disappeared in 2000, had been taken by a man with the initials "MJ"; was alive in Orlando, Florida; and would be found soon. In 2003, McClelland's son-in-law David Repasky, who had been present at Browne's reading, was convicted of murdering McClelland; her remains were found near her home in Pennsylvania.
  • In 2004, Browne said that Ryan Katcher, a 19-year-old who had disappeared in 2000, had been murdered, and his body could be found in a metal shaft. In 2006, Katcher's body was found in his truck at the bottom of a pond, where he had drowned.

In a 2013 follow-up article, Shaffer reviewed more recent predictions by Browne, as well as predictions whose outcomes had been earlier classified as undetermined but were now largely resolved. According to Shaffer, Browne was mostly or completely wrong in 33 cases and mostly accurate in none.

I take it back – this isn’t funny, it’s horrifying. The American people will listen to any idiot with a good lie, regardless of how often the person in question is proven wrong.

What I love, is how James Randi braces these bozos:

Scientific skeptic James Randi, a retired stage magician turned investigator of paranormal claims, was a vocal critic of Browne, and claimed her accuracy rate was no better than educated guessing. On September 3, 2001, Browne stated on Larry King Live that she would prove her legitimacy by accepting the James Randi Educational Foundation's $1,000,000 challenge to demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled scientific test. However, by April 2003, Browne had not contacted Randi to make testing arrangements.

On May 16, 2003, in another appearance on King's show, Browne said she had not taken the test because Randi refused to place the prize money in escrow. Randi responded by mailing a notarized copy of the prize account status showing a balance in excess of one million dollars; Browne refused to accept the letter. In late 2003, despite challenge rules that money could not be placed in escrow, Randi announced that he was willing to do so for Browne; Browne did not accept or acknowledge this offer. In 2005, Browne posted a message online that she had never received confirmation of the prize money's existence, despite Randi's claim that he had a certified mail receipt showing Browne's refusal of the package. In 2007, on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360°, Browne's business manager Linda Rossi stated that Browne would not be taking Randi's challenge "because she has nothing to prove to James Randi."

Wow – squirm much, you fucking ghoul?

I consider these people to be beneath contempt. Unemployable (or too lazy to go out and get a REAL job), they scam and flim-flam the gullible public (we can perhaps blame this on TV’s ubiquitous garbage, but that’s another topic). Psychics are lower than priests, rabbis, imams, or ministers. At least most of the latter think they’re doing the right thing – but a psychic? If they’re not mentally wrecked, they’re lying scumbags.

I am terribly tempted to go pee on her grave. And see if her ‘psychic’ son Christopher Dufresne can actually track me down using only his mind.

Just kidding – there’s no such thing as psychics.

Till the next post, then.

*An side to the PC police – I use the terms purposely, and independently of gender. So spare us all your semantic objections.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

End Of Days? And The Bleat Goes On…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
nutjobFrankly, I’m surprised that his handlers let him off his leash.

George W. Bush to Raise Money for Group That Converts Jews to Bring About Second Coming of Christ

Next week, former President George W. Bush is scheduled to keynote a fundraiser in Irving, Texas, for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that trains people in the United States, Israel, and around the world to convince Jews to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The organization's goal: to "restore" Israel and the Jews and bring about about the second coming of Christ.

Messianic Jews have long been controversial for Jews of all major denominations, who object to their proselytizing efforts and their message that salvation by Jesus is consistent with Jewish theology. Last year, Abraham Foxman, president of the Anti-Defamation League, told Politico that former Sen. Rick Santorum's appearance at an event hosted by another Messianic Jewish organization, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, was "insensitive and offensive." And Commentary magazine, which bills itself as a "conservative American journal of politics, Judaism, social and cultural issues," noted, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly." Many Messianic Jews are Christians who have adopted aspects of Jewish ritual observance; others are Jews who share the Christian belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

Asked about Bush's upcoming appearance at the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI) event, Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said, "It's disappointing that he would give his stamp of approval to a group whose program is an express effort to convert Jews and not to accept the validity of the Jewish covenant." Foxman was traveling overseas and unavailable to comment.

(After this story published, Rabbi David Wolpe of Los Angeles' Sinai Temple, whom Newsweek has called the most influential rabbi in the country, tweeted, "This is infuriating." On Monday, he published a story in Forward on the subject, writing, "the sudden rise of ‘Messianic Jews’ owes more to a clever way of misleading untutored Jews than to making theological sense. It should not receive the imprimatur of a former President of the United States.")

Based in Dallas, the MJBI claims that it acts like the Apostle Paul in helping to "educate Christians in their role to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy and thus save some of them (Romans 11:11-14)." It has Bible schools in 12 countries, an online school of "Messianic theology," and programs to train Messianic rabbis and pastors. Its logos feature a star of David and a menorah, and its website promotes the weekly Torah portion, a "Yiddish Mama's Kitchen," and links to purchase Judaica and books, such as Christ in the Old Testament. The nonprofit organization brought in approximately $1.2 million in revenue in 2011, the last year for which records are available.

At the November 14 event, which will be held at the Irving Convention Center, Bush will discuss his White House experiences, according to promotional materials. Bush, the group says, will "share his passion for setting people free." Last year, Glenn Beck was the star of the group's fundraiser, which was held at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

This year's event is designed to bring in funds for the group's proselytizing operations. And the former president is helping out with more than just speech-making. The most expensive of the ticket packages, which range from $100 to $100,000, includes 20 invitations to a VIP reception and photo opportunity with Bush, 10 signed copies of Bush's book Decision Points, and passes to tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.

Alisa Stephenson, MJBI director of events and partner relations, would not say whether Bush is receiving a speaking fee for his appearance. "We cannot have any outside advertising or any media whatsoever involved in this, so I most likely cannot answer any of your questions," she tells Mother Jones.

At last year’s MJBI fundraiser, Beck received a "Defender of Israel" award. During Beck's time as host of his Fox News program (which ended in 2011), hundreds of Jewish leaders denounced his on-air rhetoric as anti-Semitic—particularly his repeated invocation of Nazis and the Holocaust to demonize political adversaries and his accusation that George Soros is a "puppet master" who collaborated with the Nazis. "One of the reasons why I love Israel so much is I'm a guy who's for the underdog," Beck told the audience. "I'm a Mormon, which is kind of the Jew of the Christian world."

Robert Morris, pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, which Beck attends, introduced Beck as a "prophet" at the event. Morris told the crowd that his church has supported MJBI because "when we do this, the Bible tells us, it's going to change the whole world. That it's going to hasten the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it's going to bring about worldwide revival."

When asked how the MJBI managed to secure Bush to keynote its fundraiser, Stephenson cited its track record of drawing influential speakers, pointing to the appearance by Beck.

At last year's event, members of the MJBI's board of directors explained the organization's mission of converting Jews to an audience of hundreds who were seated on a professional football field, wearing formal clothes, and eating pork barbecue. Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, a leading Messianic Jew and televangelist who chairs MJBI's board of directors, maintained that "our numbers are growing and growing," because "the Bible predicted that the day would come when the blindness would come off the eyes of the people it all began with." He was referring to Jews. The Bible, Bernis continued, "tells us that the day will come when all of Israel will be saved." The MJBI, Bernis said, "is one of the ministries that God has raised up to bring that to pass." Other featured speakers last year included David Barton, the religious right's discredited "historian," who this week used Beck's radio show to announce that he won't challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) in next year's Republican Senate primary.

Another MJBI board member, Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem, a Messianic congregation in Dallas, described his own conversion experience before making a pitch to the audience to donate money to MJBI. Money, he explained, is needed to hasten the return of Jesus. With the funds it collects, Waldman said, MJBI trains "people to preach the good news of the Messiah to the Jewish people." That's important, Waldman noted, because when there are "enough" Jewish people who call Jesus their savior, "some sort of a trigger will go off in heaven, and our father in heaven will say, 'Okay, son, it's time to get your bride.'"

Even if these nimrods get their wish, and every Jewish person on earth starts hollering ‘Jebus is the Meshach’, I can guarantee the same thing will happen that happens every day: nothing. From sea to shining sea, life will go on as if no momentous event has occurred. Because it didn’t. And it never will.

And seriously, if these clowns wanted to get any kind of intellectual props, they lost it by bringing on Glenn ‘Dreck’, and actually stooping to have the former Commander-In-Thief come by and spew his usual version of glossalia all over the place.

There won’t be a Second Coming. Hell, nobody’s going to even be breathing heavy. Of course, religions are great at the anticlimax thing. All foreplay, and no release.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Allegories Gone Wild: The Mad Hatter Joins The Tea Party

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.madhatter
'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'

Much as I detest the bible, one quote springs to mind: “If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

There is perhaps no better illustration of this than this bit of profound stupidity:

Government shutdown just the start for America's Biblical revolutionaries

John Cornyn, the US senator from Texas, has been a stalwart of conservative causes. He did his best to destroy the Affordable Care Act. He opposes reproductive freedom and same-sex marriage. His voting record gets a perfect grade from the NRA, and he explained that cutting government benefits helps the poor because they "need a hand up, not a hand-out".

But apparently, he WASN'T "conservative" enough for many Republicans in Texas. Over the past few weeks, Tea Party activists floated the idea of replacing Cornyn with David Barton, the evangelical activist who has done more than anyone else to advance the "Christian Nation" myth. Although Barton withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, Glen Beck (among others) is still holding out hope that a "true conservative" might step in to take down the perfidious Cornyn.

The fact that this kind of discussion is even taking place helps put to rest two very common misperceptions about the right wing of the Republican party. The first is that the Tea Party is primarily about fiscal and economic issues. It is not; it is also about religion.

The second misperception that Barton's abortive candidacy exposed is that the Tea Party is a conservative and patriotic force in American politics. In fact, it is a radical movement that seeks to destroy our present system of government. There is nothing comparable to it on the left or the right in American politics.

Let's take a closer look at what David Barton really stands for. He presents himself as a historian, but by now, no serious person can buy that characterization. His most recent book, The Jefferson Lies, turns out to have been filled with distortions of the actual facts. The book came under criticism from numerous conservative Christians – most notably, Grove City College professors Michael Coulter and Warren Throckmorton, who published a detailed refutation of the book titled Getting Jefferson Right: Fact-Checking Claims about our Third President. In August 2012, Barton's Christian publishing house, Thomas Nelson, stopped production of the tome, announcing that they had "lost confidence in the book's details".

But the facts have never stood in the way of Barton's "history", because the history merely serves as a platform for more ambitious goals.

Barton's political agenda couldn't be clearer. The organization he founded, Wallbuilders, holds the idea that church-state separation is a myth as its chief talking point. Barton also launched the Black Robe Regiment, an association of clergy members and "concerned patriots" whose goal is to establish "the American Church" as "overseer of all principalities and governing officials, as was rightfully established long ago".

Barton's ideas spread well beyond American's system of governance. In his worldview, global climate change is God's punishment for abortion. He also takes some interest in economic issues, usually to offer a "Biblical" perspective. People are on welfare, he announced on Wallbuilders Live, because they don't read Bible!

If Barton were some out-in-the-woods extremist, we could appreciate him as a colorful detail in the diverse and vibrant landscape of American religion. But he is on a first-name basis with Newt Gingrich, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Michele Bachmann. One of Barton's go-to organizations is the American Renewal Project, which is closely aligned with the fundamentalist policy group the American Family Association and whose "pastor briefings" bring rightwing clergy together with politicians.

The immediate cause of Barton's rumored run for office had to do with the government shutdown. Specifically, it had to do with Cornyn's failure to throw his support behind Cruz and push the button on an economic meltdown.

It would be wrong to characterize those who were itching to push that button as the "fiscal conservatives" in the room. Instead, the appeal of the shutdown to folks who follow Barton is precisely its apocalyptic nature. They want to create a crisis because they understand intuitively that the kind of change in our society that they wish to bring about can really only happen in the context of some major crisis.

Which brings up the second lie that Barton's candidacy exposed: that he and the forces he represents are conservative and patriotic. The separation of church and state that Barton decries as a "myth" has been at the foundation of the American system of government for more than two centuries. The claim that Barton and friends want to "take back" America is nonsense; they want to turn America into something it never was.

According to Barton, God is punishing American for its grievous sins, like granting women reproductive rights. Clearly, Barton's God is mad at America. But it isn't hard to see that Barton is doing the judging. He really doesn't like the electorate that returned Barack Obama to power. He doesn't like our diverse, pluralistic society that worships many Gods and no God. He doesn't like our nonsectarian public schools. And if he bothered to study the works of some of our Founding Fathers, such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, he probably wouldn't like them, either.

Some establishment Republicans might take solace in the fact that Barton has decided not to burden the Texas GOP with a nasty primary battle, just as they might rejoice in the defeats suffered by the Tea Party in the elections this week. But they shouldn't be overly optimistic. The predictable defeats of Tea Party stalwarts in 2010 and 2012 didn't stop the Tea Party and its raging base from being a persistent force in American politics, and we shouldn't forget that true Tea Partiers, such as Ken Cuccinelli and Dean Young, came within only a few percentage points of defeating their much better-financed rivals. The civil war within the GOP is by no means over, and if, as the Tea Party believes, you've got God on your side, it takes a lot more than a few narrow losses at the ballot box to stop you.

And David Barton has earned the title of ‘Mad Hatter’. How so? Despite the multitudinous quotes and speeches where many presidents have stated that SOCAS is indeed a reality (from Jefferson and Madison to Kennedy and Obama), Barton has declared that SOCAS is a myth. And who told him so? Everybody’s favorite imaginary sky-daddy, that’s who.

He’s had books pulled off the shelf because they were jam packed with lies, he’s also affiliated with racist theocrats like the Christian Identity, and to top all that off, he also is lecturer for Glenn Beck’s online university (another lowly fucktard who also makes too much money off of his moronic lies).

Luckily, Barton has declined – the thought of that particular crazy asshole running for office had me seriously considering purchasing a handgun. Why? Because they’ll pry the SOCAS out of my cold dead hands, that’s why.

That a sane person would even listen to either of these people means that the state of American education is crumbling into sound bites, madness and half-truths.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, November 02, 2013

Khatana: The (Hopeful) Death Of A Barbaric Nonsense.

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
stopfgmOne of the more obnoxious and idiotic things in this country, is the knee-jerk response when you point out the deficiencies/inadequacies/stupidities of a religion (just name any religion – though most folks nowadays laugh and nod when you point out how stupid Scientology is).

And of course you can’t drop a laundry list on the retards who say stupid ass things like ‘it’s sheer arrogance to criticize someone else’s beliefs, because there’s either an awkward pause, followed by some semantic sophistry, or an ‘I don’t want to talk about this’, or [insert incredibly ubiquitous reply here].

One of those that top my own laundry list is the misogynistic treatment of women in a religious patriarchal society. One of those horrors follows here:

FGM: 'It's like neutering animals' – the film that is changing Kurdistan

A young girl is given a plastic bag of sweets and a bottle of lemonade after being genitally mutilated … the story of the 10-year fight against female genital mutilation by two film-makers has been made into a hour long documentary by the Guardian and BBC Arabic and will go out across the Arab world from Friday, reaching a combined global audience of 30 million viewers. This is the Guardian's shorter web version of that film

It started out as a film about a practice that has afflicted tens of millions of women worldwide. It culminated in a change in the law.

Ten years after they embarked on a documentary to investigate the extent of female genital mutilation in Kurdistan, two film-makers have found their work changing more than just opinions in a fiercely conservative part of the world. Partly as a result of the film, the numbers of girls being genitally mutilated in the villages and towns of Iraqi Kurdistan has fallen by more than half in the last five years.

Shara Amin and Nabaz Ahmed spent 10 years on the roads of Kurdistan speaking to women and men about the impact of female genital mutilation (FGM) on their lives, their children and their marriages. "It took a lot of time to convince them to speak to us. This was a very taboo subject. Speaking about it on camera was a very brave thing to do.

"It took us weeks, sometimes months to get them to talk and in the end it was the women that spoke out – despite the men," said Ahmed.

The result was a 50-minute film, A Handful of Ash. When it was shown in the Kurdish parliament, it had a profound effect on the lawmakers.

The film-makers' work began in 2003, shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein. The stories they were told had a numbing consistency. In one scene in the documentary a young mother with her children sitting beside her tells Shara that in their village: "They would just grab the little girls, take them and cut them, and the girls came back home. I can still remember I was sick, infected for three months. I could barely walk after I was cut."

A mullah tells the film-makers that "Khatana [the Kurdish term for FGM] is a duty; it is spiritually pure." That is the position of the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam that is practised by Iraqi Kurds. It is the same branch of Islamic law that predominates in Egypt, where studies show that up to 80% of women have been mutilated. But FGM is not just confined to some Muslim countries in the Middle East – it is also widespread in parts of Africa and
Indonesian. It pre-dates Islam or Christianity and is on record since
the time of the Pharaoh.

"It is about controlling women's sexuality and keeping them under control," said Nadya Khalife, from Human Rights Watch.

There are an estimated 140 million girls and women worldwide living with the effects of FGM, the World Health Organisation estimates.

"There were a lot of kids in the room," one 18-year-old woman told the film-makers. "My mother and sister took hold of me. They were taking off my trousers and separating my legs. I screamed 'What are you doing to me?' My mother said 'nothing dear, just a little pain'. They put me on the ground and the pain started between my thighs. Everything turned dark. When they wanted to raise me to my feet, I couldn't stand. My thighs were covered in blood."

Another woman took them to her sister's grave. "One of my sisters got an infection and died. She was cut with a dirty blade. She had an infection for two days so we took her to a doctor. He couldn't treat her and she died. She is buried here."

"It's not something that families discuss. It's just something that is done, and is forgotten about," said Khalife. "Countless generations of girls were sentenced to lives lacking in sexual pleasure or fulfilment and cheerless marriages."

One Kurdish couple encountered by Amin and Ahmed illustrated this underlying sadness with extraordinary, raw honesty.

Hawa, a seamstress, and Erat, a farmer, have been married for 10 years and have three children. Hawa said she and her three sisters were mutilated at her grandmother's insistence.

"My two sisters and I, three of us, we all had khatana [cutting]. Believe me, my mother did not care about the practice, never insisted. But my grandma insisted. She would always say food and water served by their hands would be haram [impure] if the girls were not cut."

Asked about the extent of her mutilation, she said: "My husband always says 'nothing is left of you'."

Hawa's husband said FGM had destroyed his marriage. "I was not aware of this when I married her. If I had known, I swear to God even if they paid me $10,000 I would not have married her. Because it is a problem for me.

"This circumcision is similar to neutering animals," he said. "It's a major problem. There is no sensation. It feels like lying next to a cold fish."

Piroza, now 15, recalled what was done to her when she was five. "They said: 'Come here, we brought beads for you.' They took me into a room. There was an old woman. There was a razor and ash, and they cut me."

The film-makers found that when they first started the project they were visiting villages where every one of the girls had been mutilated. The Iraqi Kurdish government denied that it was widespread but the film-makers' testimonies found otherwise. In many cases, all the women in a village had been mutilated – usually between the ages of five and nine. Most alarmingly, the fall of Saddam Hussein had led to a resurgence of the practice – FGM was seen as a mark of national cultural independence for the Kurds.

The film-makers, both in their 30s and ardent campaigners against the practice, joined forces with Wadi, a small German-Iraqi non-governmental organisation dedicated to eliminating FGM in Iraqi Kurdistan, and took their campaign film to parliament. They were invited in but only female politicians turned up to the viewing. Nevertheless, the showing sparked a campaign by the Kurdish parliamentary women's committee to outlaw FGM.

It took three years and it was not until Human Rights Watch published a devastating report into the scale of FGM in Kurdistan, and pressure was applied on the Kurdish government from Brussels, that the law was implemented in 2011.

It then sparked a debate with the Muslim clergy. A key turning point was when a leading Kurdish cleric, Mullah Omar, told a conference organised by Human Rights Watch: "Female circumcision is an injustice. It is a crime against women." A fatwa, or edict, was declared against it and word began to filter down to the villages.

One midwife who practised FGM for 20 years, Pura Sewa, said: "We have been advised not to practice mutilation and we have obeyed that. They said not to mutilate or you will be taken to jail. They took away my licence and I stopped. But if they hadn't taken it away, I would still be performing khatana for Islam."

Female genital mutilation – the facts:

• Female genital mutilation (FGM) is carried out in 29 countries, according to the World Health Organisation. Although prevalent in many Muslim countries in the Middle East, it is also widespread in Africa and Indonesia.

• Some 140 million girls and women globally currently live with the consequences of FGM, according to the WHO.

• FGM is mostly carried out on young girls sometime between infancy and the age of 15.

• More than 18% of all FGM is performed by medical professionals – and this trend is increasing.

• FGM varies from the the cutting the clitoris in some countries, such as Kurdistan, to removing all the external genitalia.

• More than 66,000 women and girls living in Britain have undergone FGM, according to the NHS, but there has not been a successful UK prosecution since it was criminalised 28 years ago.

• Human Rights Watch calls FGM a practice to control women's sexuality.

• There are several degrees of mutilation. In the most extreme form, the sexual organs are removed and the vagina is sewn up and narrowed. It is thought to reduce a woman's libido and thus to help her resist "illicit" sexual acts.

• Long-term consequences can include infertility and an increased risk of childbirth complications and deaths of newborns. Complications can also result in the need for later surgery. • In December 2012 the UN general assembly approved a resolution calling for the elimination of FGM.

• In most countries the prevalence of FGM has fallen, and an increasing number of women and men where it is practised support ending the practice.

While the fact that this barbarity is still practiced, it is heartening that someone somewhere is actually doing something about it.

Till the next post, then.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Special Privileges? Always The Religious Demand Exemption…

2angryturtlesCross-posted @ the Atheist Oasis
In my not-so-humble opinion, the religious tend to pretend to be persecuted, which is very much a display of pounding the floor with fists and feet while caterwauling about some imagined slight.

Case in point:

Christian care worker goes to appeal court over right not to work on Sundays

A Christian children's worker has mounted a test case at the court of appeal for the right not to work on a Sunday.

Celestina Mba, 38, said she was forced from her job at a children's home in south-west London after it refused to allow her to observe the sabbath as a day of rest.

In a case expected to have far-reaching consequences for faith in the workplace, three of Britain's most senior judges will decide whether employers have a duty to provide a "reasonable accommodation" for the beliefs of Christian workers.

Employment lawyers believe that a ruling in Mba's favour could pave the way for followers of other religions to not work on their holy day.

Speaking outside the court of appeal on Wednesday, Mba said: "I'm here hoping to have my individual right to worship. It's a relationship between me and God and no one can determine what that is between us.

"I think people have forgotten common sense and how to accommodate people. This shouldn't be happening. A reasonable accommodation of people's beliefs would make life so much easier."

Mba has become a cause célèbre for campaigners who believe that the courts have refused to protect "core components of Christian practice" in the workplace, while granting protection to other faiths.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, a barrister whose group, the Christian Legal Centre, is supporting Mba, said: "Celestina's case continues a trend where we are seeing secular courts ruling on core components of Christian practice.

"However, the courts have acted to protect the Kara bracelet, Afro 'cornrow haircuts', the wearing of the hijab and a Muslim's right to fast, but have refused to grant protection to the cross or the Christian Sunday.

"Celestina's offer to work for less and work unpopular shifts, even when others had offered to work in her place on Sundays, was clearly a reasonable accommodation that her employer could, and should, have provided."

Mba said she was forced to resign from her job at Brightwell children's home in Merton when the council declined her request to observe the sabbath as a day of rest.

Mba's employer, Merton council, is said to have refused to rule out rostering her to work some Sundays at the 24-hour children's home, despite Mba's offer to work night shifts and for less money instead.

Mba wants to use the judgment to overturn an earlier employment appeal tribunal ruling which decided that Merton council was justified in refusing to permit Sundays off.

There’s so much wrong with this. I don’t even have to address the supernatural folderol.

"However, the courts have acted to protect the Kara bracelet, Afro 'cornrow haircuts', the wearing of the hijab and a Muslim's right to fast, but have refused to grant protection to the cross or the Christian Sunday.”

None of those people demanded a day off.

"Celestina's offer to work for less and work unpopular shifts, even when others had offered to work in her place on Sundays, was clearly a reasonable accommodation that her employer could, and should, have provided."

It’s the employer’s decision. Leave. (Which she did.) I’d be willing to bet there’s dozens of facts that were curtailed in lieu of a sound-bite. Being a Christian is zero guarantee of being honest.

Mba said she was forced to resign from her job at Brightwell children's home in Merton when the council declined her request to observe the sabbath as a day of rest.

Anybody who knows their shit knows that ‘sabbath’ was originally on a Saturday, but got changed in order to blend in with Roman culture. Duh!

Mba wants to use the judgment to overturn an earlier employment appeal tribunal ruling which decided that Merton council was justified in refusing to permit Sundays off.

This thing wouldn’t even have had any legs, had the religious tripe been introduced. More whiny carping about having the expected free pass refused.

As I like to say: no free passes. The days of special dispensation should be over – someone’s superstition no longer be a mitigating circumstance.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

More On The Madness Of Muslims: The Non-Sacrifice Honored

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
Quran-health-hazardOctober 13th and 14th marked an Islamic event - Eid al-Adha. What does this mean, you ask?

It is specifically, the

Eid al-Adha (Arabic: عيد الأضحى‎ ʿīd al-aḍḥā, "festival of the sacrifice"), is also called Feast of the Sacrifice, the Major Festival, the Greater Eid, Kurban Bayram (Turkish: Kurban Bayramı; Albanian and Bosnian: kurban-bajram), or Eid e Qurban (Persian: عید قربان‎), is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide to honour the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his young first-born son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to Allah's command and his son's acceptance to being sacrificed, before Allah intervened to provide Abraham with a Lamb to sacrifice instead. In the lunar Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for four days.

Or to put it more frighteningly:

According to Islamic tradition, approximately four thousand years ago, the valley of Mecca (in present-day Saudi Arabia) was a dry, rocky and uninhabited place. Allah instructed Abraham (ʾIbrāhīm in Arabic) to bring Hājar (Hāǧar), his Egyptian wife, and Ismā'īl (Ishmael), his only child at the time, to Arabia from the land of Canaan.

As Abraham was preparing for his return journey back to Canaan, Hājar asked him, "Did Allah order you to leave us here? Or are you leaving us here to die." Abraham turned around to face his wife. He was so sad that he could not say anything. He pointed to the sky showing that Allah commanded him to do so. Hājar said, "Then Allah will not waste us; you can go". Though Abraham had left a large quantity of food and water with Hājar and Ishmael, the supplies quickly ran out, and within a few days the two began to feel the pangs of hunger and dehydration.

Hājar ran up and down between two hills called Al-Safa and Al-Marwah seven times, in her desperate quest for water. Exhausted, she finally collapsed beside her baby Ishmael and prayed to Allah for deliverance. Miraculously, a spring of water gushed forth from the earth at the feet of baby Ishmael. Other accounts have the angel Gabriel (Jibrail) striking the earth and causing the spring to flow in abundance. With this secure water supply, known as the Zamzam Well, they were not only able to provide for their own needs, but were also able to trade water with passing nomads for food and supplies.

Years later, Abraham was instructed by Allah to return from Canaan to build a place of worship adjacent to Hājar's well (the Zamzam Well). Abraham and Ishmael constructed a stone and mortar structure —known as the Kaaba— which was to be the gathering place for all who wished to strengthen their faith in Allah. As the years passed, Ishmael was blessed with Prophethood (Nubuwwah) and gave the nomads of the desert his message of submission to Allah. After many centuries, Mecca became a thriving desert city and a major center for trade, thanks to its reliable water source, the well of Zamzam.

One of the main trials of Abraham's life was to face the command of Allah to devote his dearest possession, his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah's will. During this preparation, Satan (Shaitan) tempted Abraham and his family by trying to dissuade them from carrying out Allah's commandment, and Ibrahim drove Satan away by throwing pebbles at him. In commemoration of their rejection of Satan, stones are thrown at symbolic pillars signifying Satan during the Hajj rites.

When Ismā'īl was about 13 (Abraham being 99), Allah decided to test their faith in public. Abraham had a recurring dream, in which Allah was commanding him to offer up for sacrifice – an unimaginable act – his son, whom Allah had granted him after many years of deep prayer. Abraham knew that the dreams of the prophets were divinely inspired, and one of the ways in which Allah communicated with his prophets. When the intent of the dreams became clear to him, Abraham decided to fulfill Allah's command and offer Ishmael for sacrifice.

Although Abraham was ready to sacrifice his dearest for Allah's sake, he could not just bring his son to the place of sacrifice without his consent. Ishmael had to be consulted as to whether he was willing to give up his life in fulfillment of Allah's command. This consultation would be a major test of Ishmael's maturity in faith; love and commitment for Allah; willingness to obey his father; and readiness to sacrifice his own life for the sake of Allah.

Abraham presented the matter to his son and asked for his opinion about the dreams of slaughtering him. Ishmael did not show any hesitation or reservation even for a moment. He said, "Father, do what you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha'Allah (Allah willing), to be very patient." His mature response, his deep insight into the nature of his father’s dreams, his commitment to Allah, and ultimately his willingness to sacrifice his own life for the sake of Allah were all unprecedented.

When Abraham attempted to cut Ishmael's throat, he was astonished to see that Ishmael was unharmed and instead, he found a dead ram which was slaughtered. Abraham had passed the test by his willingness to carry out Allah's command.

This is mentioned in the Quran as follows:

"O my Lord! Grant me a righteous (son)!" So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when (his son) was old enough to walk and work with him, (Abraham) said: O my dear son, I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: Now see what is your view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do what you are commanded; if Allah wills, you will find me one practising patience and steadfastness!" So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead, We called out to him saying: O Ibraheem! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward those who do good. Most surely this was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!" Thus indeed do We reward those who do right. Surely he was one of Our believing servants.

As a reward for this sacrifice, Allah then granted Abraham the good news of the birth of his second son, Is-haaq (Isaac):

And We gave him the good news of Is-haaq, a prophet from among the righteous.

Abraham had shown that his love for Allah superseded all others: that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dearest to him in submission to Allah's command. Muslims commemorate this ultimate act of sacrifice every year during Eid al-Adha.

To put it all in a nutshell: what a load of horse manure.

For one thing, it is highly unlikely that old pimp Abram ever actually existed at all (horrors!). Secondly, the origin story featured Isaac not Ishmael. Thirdly, the whole narrative is derivative syncretism – it borrows willy-nilly from the original, and injects piles of horseshit into it. The original also stipulated that Isaac would be a king, and the seed of kings would spring from him, so the likelihood that good old Abe was a raging psychotic just hearing bloodthirsty voices (let me qualify that, at all times), and even if prophecies were ever real, it’s a solid-state contradiction in terms. If indeed Ishmael ever existed, he was an idiot for being willing to proffer his throat to dear old demented dad.

I was raised (as most of you were, I suspect) to be in awe of this story (in whatever incarnation), to see this as some sort of inspirational milestone in the bible (or whatever), but the truth of the matter, it’s horrific and scary instead. A deity asking for child sacrifice? Never mind the imaginary sky daddy in question reneged (something today’s Republicans would term ‘flip-flopping’) – the mere suggestion should send civilized shudders down anyone’s spine.

Allah, Jehovah, Jesus – it’s all a load of bullocks, as our cousins across the pond would say.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Allegories Gone Wild: To Russia, With Hate

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
religi-freedomThere is just no excuse for this horseshit:

Anti-Gay Riot In Tblisi Tests Balance Between Church, State

While gay rights have been gaining ground in the West, they've been facing a strong backlash in many countries of the former Soviet Union.

Russia recently passed a law that makes it a crime to give information about "non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors.

Gay-rights advocates say the wording of the law is so vague that it can be used to ban gay-pride parades or, in fact, any public discussion of same-sex issues.

Homosexuality was a crime in the former Soviet Union, and it remains so in former Soviet republics such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

The former Soviet republic of Georgia is contending with the aftermath of an episode of mass violence that took place in May. In Georgia's capital city, Tblisi, a mob of thousands attacked a small group of people who were staging a protest against homophobia.

The leaders of the attack? Georgian Orthodox priests.

The episode raised issues about human rights in a religiously conservative country, as well as questions about the balance of power between church and state.

Priests Among Violent Attackers

The incident began when members of Georgia's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their supporters obtained a permit to hold a vigil on the steps of parliament.

They planned to mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.

When some leaders of the Georgian Orthodox Church heard about it, they urged their congregations to come to a counterdemonstration, which was promoted as a peaceful and family-oriented event.

When the day came, it was anything but peaceful.

Led by Orthodox priests, the crowd overwhelmed the police barrier around the small group of anti-homophobia demonstrators. Video from the clash shows a priest brandishing a stool as a weapon; other priests are heard to curse and yell "Kill them! Kill them!"

Nino Kharchilava was part of a small group of demonstrators that never even made it to the parliament steps. They were surrounded by counterdemonstrators and threatened until police hustled them into a minibus in an effort to get them away from the mob.

Kharchilava is a project assistant for the Women's Initiatives Supporting Group in Tblisi. She says the bus, too, was overwhelmed by attackers, who smashed most of the windows and thrust their hands through the broken glass to get at the demonstrators inside.

"One guy was like, hitting [at] me, and I just tried to communicate and tried to say 'What are you doing?' " she recalls. "And when I saw the blood around, and I couldn't figure out whether this blood is mine, or not, and then I realized it's not my blood, it's their blood."

"You know, they were ready to kill themselves [in order to kill] us," Kharchilava says. "It was really insane."

Church Does Not Punish Participants

The Rev. Mikael Botkovali, a spokesman for the Orthodox Church, brought members of his own congregation to the demonstration.

On a recent day, he sits in the calm baptistery of his church, surrounded by saints painted in the Byzantine style.

Botkovali says the church opposes homosexuality, but it doesn't seek to interfere with what gay people do in private. Where the faithful must speak out, he says, is when LGBT people seek to spread what he calls "homosexual propaganda."

"Religion obliges us to talk to these people and to show them that they're wrong, they're sinners," he says. "Even in the Bible, it's written about these people that, all of them, they will go to hell."

But Botkovali condemns the violence and says the priests who led it were rightly punished under civil and church law.

When pressed, he concedes that the church punishment consists only of suspending the priests from serving for a while and sending them to a monastery outside the city until they confess their errors.

After the violence, Georgia's prime minister, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said that those who promoted the violence would be punished.

A Test For The Rule Of Law

But gay-rights activist Irakli Vacharadze says that so far, the civil punishment hasn't been strong enough to show that Georgia's new government is willing to apply the rule of law to such a popular and powerful institution as the church.

Vacharadze is the executive director of an LGBT organization called Identova, or "Identity," and he was at the May 17 demonstration. He says that key members of Georgia's parliament, including the head of the Committee on Human Rights, have declared themselves subservient to the patriarch of the Orthodox Church.

"What does it mean," Vacharadze asks, "when the chair of the human rights committee says that 'our statement on the human rights violations will not go over what the patriarch has said'? It's a theocracy. It's quite dangerous. We don't want to turn Georgia into next Iran."

Lasha Bakradze, the head of the Georgian Literature Museum in Tblisi, helped organize an online petition against homophobic violence. He says more than 12,000 people signed the petition in its first two days online.

The mass violence on May 17 isn't just about sexual orientation and traditional values, Bakradze says, it's a demonstration of power by extremists who have made their way into the higher levels of the church.

"I think that the church in Georgia has shown to the government how powerful [it is] ... and it's dangerous, and it's against Georgian statehood," he says.

But Archil Kbilashvili, Georgia's chief prosecutor, says the case is not over, and that priests who were involved in the violence still face charges that could require them to serve jail time.

And, he says, no matter what the outcome, the case will serve as a key precedent.

"We cannot remember when our prosecution office introduced charges against some spiritual leaders," Kbilashvili says.

LGBT rights groups say they're still waiting for proof that the government will hold those spiritual leaders to account under the law.

These people sicken me. As always they mask their hypocrisy behind piety, claiming it’s for ‘souls’, hollering about love and gawd, but their true colors are there for all to see, uneducated, xenophobic little pissants hiding behind the ultimate bullshit: religion.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

More On The Madness Of Muslim: The Body Count Rises

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
wp_london_protestFor a ‘religion of peace’, it sure seems to be a violent ideology:

Scores Are Killed by Suicide Bomb Attack at Historic Church in Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide attack on a historic church in northwestern Pakistan killed at least 78 people on Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks on the Christian minority in Pakistan in years.

Pakistanis grieved over the coffins of their relatives who were killed in a suicide bomb attack on an old church in the city of Peshawar on Sunday.

The attack occurred as worshipers left All Saints Church in the old quarter of the regional capital, Peshawar, after a service on Sunday morning. Up to 600 people had attended and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd. “As soon as the service finished and the food was being distributed, all of a sudden we heard one explosion, followed by another,” said Azim Ghori, a witness.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who arrived in Peshawar on Sunday evening, said that 78 people had been killed, including 34 women and 7 children. “Such an attack on women and children is against humanity,” he said.Akhtar Ali Shah, the home secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, said that more than 100 people had been wounded. Mr. Khan said that 37 of those were children.

The dead included two Muslim police officers who had been posted outside the church. Witnesses reported scenes of mayhem as rescue workers ferried victims from the church, which was scattered with body parts, shrapnel and bloodied clothing.

On Sunday afternoon, the bodies of 45 victims were placed in coffins and moved to the nearby St. John’s Church, the oldest church in the city. The coffins were placed in the church playground as dozens of grieving relatives and mourners gathered. A large contingent of police officers was deployed outside the church, and mourners were allowed to enter the compound after a thorough security check. Ambulances were allowed to enter the compound one by one as dead bodies were then placed in vehicles to take them to the morgue.

Shafqat Malik, a senior official of the bomb disposal squad, said in an interview that evidence collected from the church confirmed that two suicide bombers had carried out the attack. “Each bomber carried six kilograms of explosives,” he said.

The attack coincided with a broader wave of attacks on religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims this year.

It is readily apparent over the decades of bad press and atrocities, that religion improves no one.

At this juncture, we can only hope for a collective epiphany (yes the irony of the use of that word doesn’t escape me) of the species, so that we can cast down the imaginary friends that psychopaths hide behind.

Till the next post, then.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Allegories Gone Wild: Obama Is The Antichrist? Pull The Other One Please…

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
obama-the-antichristSometimes my eyes hurt from popping out in disbelief, especially when the wankers start spewing this ass-nonsense:

Lively: Obama Is The Antichrist, Working With Satanic Gays To Bring About The Apocalypse

Scott Lively, the pastor behind anti-gay laws from Uganda to Russia, appeared on TruNews yesterday to reveal to host Rick Wiles the identity of the Antichrist: President Obama. While he refused to mention Obama by name, he said that the Antichrist is the person “heading the largest superpower of the world today.” Lively explained that the Antichrist (read: Obama) will cancel all of the world’s debts in 2015, end the Mideast conflict with a peace treaty between the Israelis and Palestinians and introduce a one-world economic system and secular humanist religion.

Lively: Regional war breaks out and at the same time, because of that, the global economy collapses, crashes. That begins the serious pain for the entire world that the globalists actually want to prepare them for the global, one-world system. They already have the economic system to bring in; just nobody is ready to accept it. So at the right time, after there’s been enough pain, what happens is the Antichrist—I won’t name any names here but he is heading the largest superpower of the world today—steps in at the right time and does three things. He declares a global jubilee in which all the debts of the world are eliminated, this is after there’s been massive numbers of people who have died—
Wiles: Scott, I told people, I told our audience years ago, I’m going to say 2008, I said on this program this global financial crisis will be so bad that at some point in the future a world leader will say the only solution is biblical, we will have to cancel all the debts and we are going to have a global jubilee.
Lively: Amen. And we just happen to have one coming up, September 23, 2015.
Wiles: And the politician who does it is going to be hailed as the greatest man on the planet.
Lively: The hero of the world, right? This is the guy that also is going to be able to do what no one else in the history of the Middle East conflict could do. He’s going to have brought a peace treaty between the Palestinians and the Israelis; the Palestinians get their two-state solution and the Israelis get the permission to build on the Temple Mount. And who is the hero? It’s the guy that I’m not going to mention his name.
Wiles: And a lot of Christians when they see the Temple going up are going to hyperventilate, thinking this is a great thing and they have no idea that Antichrist is coming.
Lively: Only because it’s a symbol of what’s coming. Here’s the one other part that’s been missing, you’ve alluded to it and we’re very close on this that at the same time he introduces the new global system but here’s the other missing component. What’s the religion of the Antichrist? The religion of the Antichrist is secular humanism.

[As Lively explained, the imminent apocalypse is the result of homosexuality, which he said is “at the heart of the Antichrist kingdom” (along with Islam). He repeated his claim that homosexuality caused Noah’s Flood and the destruction of Sodom, arguing that gay rights is the issue that “portends the End Times” and is backed by the Devil.]

What is the issue that God is using to divide the sheep and the goats right now? It’s not whether Jesus Christ is Lord. It’s where do you stand on homosexuality? You know why? He gave us the warnings about that. From Genesis to Revelation, he has given us the advance notice that this issue portends the End Times and that when you see these things happen you’ll know that is the context that you are in. That’s the issue that is dividing the church right down the middle, of all the issue that God could’ve chosen. And the people who are going to the world’s side and the Devil’s side on that question are completely blind to its importance as a biblical topic; they think it is unimportant, that God doesn’t care about that when He gave us the only sin associated with the destruction of cities with fire and brimstone, the only sin associated with a reprobate mind in Romans 1, the thing that the rabbis said was the last straw before God brought the Flood, the issue that seems to be the heart of the Antichrist kingdom in Revelation 11 when it says that the two witnesses are struck down in the city that is mystically called Sodom and Egypt: homosexuality and Islam.

[Lively argued that only Vladimir Putin is the world’s last hope, and called for other nations to follow in his footsteps in implementing stringently anti-gay laws.]

We don’t want to gloss over the problems that we have with Mr. Putin but by the same token he’s the only world leader capable of standing up to the West and he is championing the traditional marriage and Christian values regarding the central moral issue of our time that no one else has the capability to do what he’s doing. Really there’s a chance here for him to inspire all the morally conservative countries of the law to adopt a similar law that he just adopted, his country just adopted and really have a chance maybe to roll some of this terrible agenda back.

Really, Lively and Wills are just going to have to stop sucking on that glass pipe – religion seems to have the same effect on rational thought as crack cocaine.

Obviously Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum are futurists – that is to say, they believe that all the alleged ‘prophecies’ will occur in the not-too-distant future at an unspecified time. As opposed to preterists and historicists.

This nonsense has been going on for far too long. So many people have pointed the finger at prominent figures –from popes to presidents.  Religious people are such children – they live in a comic book world of extremes, and they love to point and call names at someone they disagree with.

Jesus never existed, there is no devil, no antichrist, all of that folderol is the invention of a bunch of Iron Age shepherds who pretty much do what today’s Republicans do – pull their info straight out of that orifice-that-shall-not-be-named.

No wonder religion appeals to those assholes…it’s the oldest con-game in the book, and all it requires is the steady stare of the psycho and the spittle of the passionate ranter to convince all those sheeple.

Till the next post, then.