Oh Hai!


Hello! I haven't been writing here much lately, but I have a few good reasons for that - for one, I've gone back to school to chase my dream of being a paleoanthropologist so my time is a little on the short side. Also, I've taken on more responsibility with Ask An Atheist, a TV show -turned-radio show (What? How did that happen? If you're curious, I'll tell you. Otherwise, it's kind of a long story and it's been explained in other places.) in the greater Seattle-Tacoma area which seeks to offer representation of atheists in the public sphere. Part of my responsibilities include - you guessed it - blogging a bit for the website. So, if you want to keep reading (plus you want to support an awesome show that is having an impact across the globe) go to the Ask An Atheist website and I'll be there...ranting about juggalos and the like. :)



What Kind of a World is it Where Littlejohns Are Super Dicks?


Historically Little Johns have been nice characters, side kicks to heroes and often are portrayed as that chubby friend you love who is the first person invited to your birthday party.

In Mississippi, like most other things found in that crazy state, Littlejohns are a little different.

From Altnernet:

On Wednesday [10/07/2010], a scene reminiscent of My Cousin Vinny -- but with core Constitutional values at stake -- played out in a Mississippi courtroom when a veteran judge threw a defense attorney in jail for refusing to recite the pledge of allegiance.

According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Chancellor Talmadge Littlejohn, a veteran jurist who recently celebrated his 50thyear in the state bar, urged 49 year-old defense attorney Danny Lampley to recite the pledge of allegiance, something the lawyer has refused to do on principle. Lampley reportedly “rose and was respectful,” but remained mum. Littlejohn found him in contempt of court and ordered him jailed. Lampley spent 5 hours in prison before being released, and was back in Littlejohn’s court later in the afternoon.

If I was that guy, I'd be spitting pissed. His response to the incident is so measured and calm, I almost want to find out his zen master secrets to staying cool so that when I get totally fucked by someone in a position of power, I can come of as even half as calm and collected. Of course, maybe the 5 hours in jail gave him some time to chill out.

“This morning, [ending up behind bars] was the last thing on my mind," Lampley told the Daily Journal. He added that he and the judge have a "different point of view" about things like loyalty oaths and the pledge of allegiance. "I don't have to say it because I'm an American," he said. But, he added, "I have a lot of respect for him …I'm just not going to back off on this.”

So, can a judge put an attorney in jail for not saying the pledge? No chance, Mac.

Radley Balko, who covers criminal justice issues for Reason, called Wednesday’s contempt charge, “just astonishingly ignorant, arrogant, and thuggish. Oh, and illegal. It’s also way illegal. Like, not even close.” David Hudson Jr., an expert at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University, told the Daily Journal that forcing Lampley to repeat the pledge was an obvious violation of his right to free-speech. "I've never heard of a judge jailing a lawyer over this," he said.

I guess my main question is - why does the guy who got wrongfully put in jail have any respect for this guy in the first place? I'm not a big proponant of judging people based on mistakes they made 30 years ago, unless the mistake was pretty big and involved a glaring amount of misconduct and misuse of power. Surely Littlejohn can't have - no wait. Yep. That's right.

In 1974, when a 21 year-old black man was gunned down by police in Byhalia, Mississippi, local activists with the Marshall County United League criticized law enforcement’s response to the killing. Members of the league distributed pamphlets criticizing Littlejohn, who was then the District Attorney. They called a hearing into the shooting a “farce,” and accused Littlejohn of “acting as defense attorney for the officers rather than as prosecutor,” according to a 1978 ruling by a federal appeals court.

In response, Littlejohn then used a grand jury to launch a legal witch-hunt against the group, investigating its finances and organizational leadership. The Marshall County United League sued, and a federal appeals court concluded that Littlejohn had acted “in bad faith for the purpose of harassing those who, in the exercise of their First Amendment rights, had criticized defendant Littlejohn.” In issuing an injunction preventing Littlejohn from pursuing his investigation further, the justices characterized the case as an “abuse of the grand jury process [that] cannot be tolerated in a free society."

What a dick.


Ask an Atheist SEASON 2!! Episode 1 - Mormonism

Yay! We made it to season 2! And we decided to top the season off with...Mormonism!

With talented hosts Libbie and Sam. Dum dum dum dum dum!


AaA Episode 15 With Greta Christina! Also - SCAN Awards

New Ask an Atheist with a very special guest - Greta Christina!

Also, tomorrow is the deadline to vote for Ask an Atheist for the SCAN awards! As always, thanks for your support!


Just A Funny Sign



I started school

Here's a funny sign:
OK, laterz.


SCAN Awards - Vote For Ask an Atheist! Also - AIDS walk


I hate feeling like I'm spamming people with silly posts, but here are a few things I'm involved with in which I would love and appreciate your support.

First - Ask an Atheist is up for 4 awards at this year's SCAN Awards ceremony. Please go vote! I would especially love to win in the category of "Best Religious Programming" - if only because of the delicious, delectable irony. :D

Second - I'm participating in the AIDS walk with the Tacoma Atheists and could use your support. Even if you can't pledge, a comment or 'go team' would be much appreciated. :D



Abuse of Positions of Power - Pharmacists Gone Wild


In Washington, we're dealing with a little issue concerning personal freedom versus people using their positions of influence to mandate morality. A pharmacist doesn't want to sell Plan B - the "morning after" pill - because she says it violates her morals to do so. The thing that bothers me is that she chose to be a pharmacist, her job is to fill prescriptions, not make moral decisions about the prescriptions she's being asked to fill. Ugh, look - what would the response be if a Hindu told someone that selling them their heart or diabetes medication violated their morals because the drug was tested using bovine DNA? What about small towns where there is only one pharmacist in the area? If pharmacists are allowed to pick and choose what medicines they dispense based on their personal beliefs, what is to stop religious extremists from specifically choosing that career and implementing their morality on others in an underhanded fashion? Do I sound completely paranoid? If so, I would suggest you haven't been paying attention to the kind of tactics more extreme groups have employed in the recent past to circumvent the law and underhandedly violate the constitution.

Here's hoping they make the right decision and continue to expect pharmacists to do, I don't know, their job.

KENT, Wash. -- Hundreds of women gathered in a Kent courtroom Friday afternoon over the controversial morning after pill.

The Washington State Board of Pharmacy is considering changes to the way pharmacists hand out these types of prescriptions and held a public hearing Friday for public input.

Women from all over the state filled every chair and spilled out into the hallway, eager to tell the pharmacy board their opinions.

"I would prefer on my free time to go celebrate the victory of the Storm, but this is more of an important issue for women," said Betsy Shedd.

Betsy Shedd and several other women want the Board of Pharmacy to keep the current rules in place. As it stands, pharmacists must to fill all prescriptions of medicines they have in stock.

Dr. Patricia O'Halloran says that rule is violation of her religious rights.

“I would like to see them come out of this respecting and honoring the conscious rights of pharmacies and pharmacy owners," said O’Halloran.

So would attorney Kristen Waggoner, who represents the owners of Ralph's Pharmacy in Olympia. They're suing the Board of Pharmacy. Ralph’s Pharmacy doesn't want to be forced into filling Plan B prescriptions or any other drug like it.

“We will move forward and go to trial if the pharmacy board does not the pass the rule that allows our client to refer patients and that's because referrals are a time honored practice in all health care professions," said Waggoner. “A rule change in no way would better support a patient’s health."

The board says it's listening to all sides, and in the end they don't have to change the rules.

“We may just keep the rule as it is. We may amend an existing rule or we may start a new rule," said Gary Harris, Board of Pharmacy.

One of those rules up for discussion is the facilitated referral rule. If a pharmacist does not have a medicine in stock, he or she would be required to find another pharmacy close by that carries it.

The next hearing will be held September 25th in Kent. The Board says it will review all comments from this hearing, online and written letters before making a final decision sometime before December.


Ask an Atheist Episodes 12 & 13

I got my computer back from the shop today - yay! - and so I'm posting the last two weeks worth of Ask an Atheist episodes for you today. Enjoy!

Episode 12 - Viewer Calls and Emails

Episode 13 - 9/11 Conspiracy Theories - The case against controlled demolition


AaA Episode 11 - Atheists in Fiction 2

Episode 11 - atheists in fiction 2 with Mike and Libby. Enjoy. :)


The Curious Case of LH


I have a woman who emails me regularly, though I'm not sure if she realizes she's doing it. From what I can tell, she's kind of my antithesis. She's talked about vacations, stocks, and her home enough for me to guess she's in a higher tax bracket than me and she's mentioned some other things in her emails that has led me to think of her as an older woman, possibly someone whose use of the internet came late in life and really only deals with email and possibly recipe and craft sites, but certainly not work. I am making a few assumptions here, but I'm trying to paint a portrait of her for you without getting too personal, since like I said, I don't think she's aware that she keeps emailing me. One of the main reasons I assume she's not terribly familiar with using the internet is because she 1 - sends those awful chain emails that everyone in their right mind knows are annoying, a waste of time, and a source of aggravation for the majority of people out there and 2 - I keep telling her she's emailing me by mistake, but she never seems to understand how that might be or how to stop.

Someone in her life, presumably from what I've read her daughter, has almost the same name and email address as me except there's an 'a' instead of an 'e' in her last name. I've emailed LH as well as BL to let them both know that I keep getting emails meant for someone else, emails dripping with prayers and mentions of God and tea party politics, misinformation and snarky comments about Obama (which is especially annoying since there are plenty of legitimate reasons to be less than enchanted with our current president) and everything else one would expect from a typical middle to upper class religious American.

In one email, she perpetuated the idea that America ought to be run the way Wal Mart is run - after all, they have a ton of money and are really successful, right? In another email, she evidently agreed with the sentiments that illegal immigrants are the single worst issue in America - and that democrats would rather protect the rights of an illegal than the rights of a poor, defenseless fetus.

Riiiight. Pretty awesome stuff.

This latest email is a chain email, one of those 'send this to 12 people in 12 minutes or your tits will fall off' affairs, but instead of tits falling off, this was a chain letter to prove your love of God.

What? No! No self respecting religious person would trivialize their relationship with the Most Important Person In Existence by making Him/Her/It the focus of a lousy internet chain letter, would they? Oh you know they would.

Just 27 Words:

God our Father, walk through my house and take away all my worries and illnesses and please watch over and heal my family in Jesus name, Amen.

This prayer is so powerful. Pass this to 12 people including me. A blessing is coming to you in form of a new job, a house, marriage or financially. Do not break or ask questions.

This is a test. Does God come first in your life? If so, stop what you're doing & send it to 12 people now. Watch what he does!

My main concern through all of this is the fact that LH only sent this to 8 people. Looks like someone needs to find 4 more people to send this shit to so her god, who has evidently taken to testing people via internet memes these days, knows she puts him first in her life and she can get that sweet sweet blessing! Ching!

Also, I bet Job is pissed.


Perpetuating The Myth of Religious Intolerance


Denver Archbishop Charles_J._Chaput recently gave a 12 page address to the Canon Law Association of Slovakia titled "Living within the Truth - Religious liberty and Catholic mission in the new order of the world". Basically, Chaput tries to establish the idea that Christians in the US and Europe are victims of intolerance, but I'm still not seeing it. To me it seems like a lengthy whine about not having as much political power and influence as he would like, with his only real argument for why any religious group should be involved in politics at all in the US is that the US (and Europe and presumably anywhere else that's western, proper, predominantly white and Christian) is based on Christan values and indeed owes its very success and ability to flourish to Christianity.

Right. Well, I obviously disagree.

One part of the address specifically caught my attention:

Downplaying the West’s Christian past is sometimes done with the best intentions, from a desire to promote peaceful co-existence in a pluralistic society. But more frequently it’s done to marginalize Christians and to neutralize the Church’s public witness.

The Church needs to name and fight this lie. To be a European or an American is to be heir to a profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth. This synthesis gave rise to the Christian humanism that undergirds all of Western civilization.

On this point, we might remember the German Lutheran scholar and pastor, Dietrich
Bonhoeffer. He wrote these words in the months leading up to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1943: “The unity of the West is not an idea but a historical reality, of which the sole foundation is Christ.”5

Our societies in the West are Christian by birth, and their survival depends on the
endurance of Christian values. Our core principles and political institutions are based, in large measure, on the morality of the Gospel and the Christian vision of man and
government. We are talking here not only about Christian theology or religious ideas. We are talking about the moorings of our societies -- representative government and the separation of powers; freedom of religion and conscience; and most importantly, the dignity of the human person.

This truth about the essential unity of the West has a corollary, as Bonhoeffer also
observed: Take away Christ and you remove the only reliable foundation for our values, institutions and way of life.

That means we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over
offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists,” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships -- regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.

Just a few comments - though so much more can be said.

Claiming that there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced on anyone in the West is not only a shockingly naive statement, it's blatantly untrue. The only way this statement might be valid is if you were to reduce what would be considered "forcing Christianity" enough to make any given example of Christianity being forced on people not count.

Even if you disregard the seemingly constant issues that are popping up all over the US with prayer in city council meetings and school board meetings and religious displays on government property - an obviously unconstitutional act that I personally would consider examples of low level government officials trying to force religion onto people in a subtle, non physical way - there are even more blatant examples of Christians forcing Christianity on people to be found. A recent situation that pops to mind is the Christian concert that was put on in Virginia where soldiers had the "choice" of either attending the concert or going back to their bunks and cleaning for hours. I'm curious as to how that might be considered not forcing Christianity on someone? Is it because there was technically a choice involved?

Also, are there really atheist dictators alive and kicking today, forcing godlessness on their people? Where are they? What are they doing in the name of atheism that is so terrible? Why have I not heard of this before from the literally hundreds of theists I've debated in the past few years? I'm not saying they don't exist, but it is suspicious to me that this is the first time I've heard of them and that no specific examples of these dictators were given.

Last, I find it interesting that the author feels comfortable claiming that both regions are based off of Christianity - or rather "profound Christian synthesis of Greek philosophy and art, Roman law, and biblical truth." He seems to be fine with admitting that our society is not a direct product of one influence, but rather a kind of synthesis of three different influences. Again, this seems short sighted to me. Why only go back that far? What about those influences that helped shape Rome and Greece? Seemingly the only reason that those influences are less important is because the time when Greece, Rome, and the rise of Christianity intercept one another is about how far back Chaput had to go in order to make his point, but if we're going to reach back to the ancient romans to establish what our modern societies are founded in, what's to stop anyone from going back even further than that? Can't I equally claim that US and Europe was built on a foundation that began with Hammurbi's code? Or the Code of Ur-Nammu? Citing the point in history where Christian and Roman ideologies began to intertwine as the foundation of western civilization seems more like convenient historical cherry picking in order to perpetuate an agenda than anything.

I don't mean to downplay the influence Christianity has had in western civilization, it obviously has influenced our societies quite a bit. However, at least in countries where there is some kind of provision for church/state separation, that does not in any way stand as justification for allowing religious groups - Catholic or anyone else - to politicize their religion.

It would seem Chaput's main point is that we somehow owe Christianity for a lot of good things, therefore not allowing Christianity to have a position of political influence and power is tantamount to religious intolerance.

I just don't agree with that sentiment at all.

(thanks to Religion Clause for the link)


Ask an Atheist Episode 10 - Intelligent Design

Please welcome the newest host to the show - Scott! Also, ID is one of those topics I randomly know a lot about and love to talk about. They did a top notch job on this episode. Enjoy!


First It Was The Banana. Now A New Nightmare Has Emerged - Peanut Butter!

I'm not seriously commenting on this because it's a joke. Possibly an unintentional, sadly misinformed joke, but a joke regardless.

Yikes. All I have to say is - evolution says nothing about the origin of life. The idea they're talking about is abiogenesis.


Keep An Eye Out For New Contributors


In about a month I'll be headed back to school. I realize from last year that it's a bit annoying to have a blog go from from somewhat consistently active to almost inactive, so this year I've gone looking for additional contributors for the blog to keep this place churning out content, even when I'm personally a busy bee.

So keep an eye out!

Also, if you want to be a contributor, let me know.


I'm Tired of Mosque Talk - Let's Make Fun of Sarah Palin!


Chances are, unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere or are REALLY good at ignoring most media including magazine covers in line at the store and the ticker tape news they try to squeeze into most TV these days, you've heard about the mosque-cultural center-built-literally-on-the-ashes-of-but-in-reality-two-blocks-away-from-ground-zero mess.

Harris has weighed in.

Hitchens has commented.

PZ kind of talked about it.

Hemant has addressed it.

Pat Condell ranted about it.

So frankly, I'm bored with it. My opinion is that it shouldn't even be an issue. A fully fledged mosque already exists, has existed for decades even closer to ground zero than this one. Seems pretty obvious this is being made into more of an issue than it should be for political reasons - convince people their bigotry isn't bigotry but valid concern and they really will love you for giving them the freedom to be petty and hateful.

Satire is the best remedy for boredom, so here's a nice healthy portion -


PLANS to build a state-of-the-art library next to Republican catastrophe Sarah Palin are causing outrage across mainstream America.

Campaigners have described the project as insensitive and a deliberate act of provocation by people with brains.

The issue is forming a dividing line in advance of November's mid-term congressional elections with candidates being forced to declare whether they have ever been to a library or spoken to someone who has books in their home.

Meanwhile President Obama has caused unease within his own Democratic party by endorsing the library and claiming that not everyone who reads books is responsible for calling Mrs Palin a fuckwit nutjob nightmare of a human being.

But Bill McKay, a leading member of the right-wing Teapot movement, said: "Sarah Palin is a hallowed place for Americans who can't read.

"How is she going to feel knowing that every day there are people going inside a building to find things out for themselves and have thoughts, right in the very shadow of her amazing nipples."

He added: "Our founding fathers intended for every building in this country to be a church containing one book, written by Jesus, that would be read out in a strange voice by an orange man in a shiny suit who would also tell you who you were allowed to kill.

"Building a library next to Mrs Palin is like Pearl Harbour. Or 9/11."

And Wayne Hayes, a pig masseur from Coontree, Virginia, said: "I is so angry right now.

"It's like something is on fire right in the middle of my head. Like I've eaten a real hot chilli, but it's gone up my nose tubes rather than down my ass tubes."

He added: "Would these library lovers allow me to set up a stall next to the Smithsonian Museum and start selling DVDs of bible cartoons as long as it was in accordance with local regulations?

"Oh they would? I see. So is that why they're better than me?"


Why Must My Rights Be Violated For You To Feel Validated?


Once again, Christians are a shining example of maturity and class. No, wait -

MARION-- It was standing room only at the Marion City Council Meeting Monday night. A large crowd turned out to support the Ten Commandments proposal. They were countering one man's fight against the idea.

I know, I know. Maaaaaan -another Ten Commandments issue? These are so lame. Look - don't put religious crap on public land. It's super simple, super constitutionally sound, and super easy to remember. Regardless, I actually care very little about silly religious crap in public spaces, it's always more about the bigger picture with these cases anyway.

While no action was taken at Monday night's meeting it's obvious which side the council is on.

Council member Jay Rix told the atheist "You make me sick to my stomach."
Mayor Bob Butler said, "In God's will this will be done."

Oh, it's on now bitches. Now I really do care about whether this damn thing ends up in your stupid little town. Just kidding, I don't really care any more now than I did before, but I do think those guys are assholes and it would embarrass me if they were my political representatives. Cuz they seem like jerkwads.

But even those harsh words didn't stop activist Rob Sherman of Chicago.
He's the same man who recently filed a lawsuit against the Friends of the Bald Knob Cross.

He's now threatening to make things more difficult for Marion if they do build the Ten Commandments monument.

One resident’s idea to put up a Ten Commandments monument on the Marion town square is spurring a heated debate about religious freedom.

"When private parties put religious displays on government {ground} it's like a cancer, in that if it is allowed to happen in one community it will spread to other communities," says Rob Sherman.

Ehhhh, I personally dislike the volatile nature of comparing things to cancer, but I see Rob's point in that little issues like this are often used as a reference to justify further religious symbols and gestures in areas where they constitutionally don't belong,

Sherman is an atheist activist who wasn't welcomed in Marion. His anti-God message was quickly rejected.

"My problem is an atheist says he has no religion yet he demands that I forsake my religion," says Rabbi Moshe Laurie.

Wait a second - how exactly is it demanding that you forsake your religion to oppose an action which is obviously constitutionally questionable? Come on, Rabbi, your knuckles may be getting sore from all that pearl clutching.

The man who started it all is Marion resident Ken Kessler.
He says the night's meeting was a success.

"Surprised by it and encouraged by it. I think it was a grand turn out," says Kessler.

City leaders say it's not a matter of if the monument will be built, but a question of when.
That didn't stop Sherman from making threats.

He says if city leaders try to sell a portion of Tower Square to technically make it private property, he could try to out bid Kessler.

Wow, really? So they know what they want to do is unconstitutional, so they're planning to make it technically constitutional by trying to sell a portion of the town square - about the size of a Ten Commandments statue - to a private entity? Isn't that kind of a big ol' fuck you to the constitution?

"You might end up with me purchasing that segment. Then I could put up a monument that says God is make believe or there is no God," says Sherman.

Sherman suggests the monument be placed on church or private property.
Anything else, he considers atheist bigotry and discrimination that will have consequences.

"Facing the potential of a long expensive, losing legal battle," says Sherman.

But the threats don't have Kessler backing down.

"A little nauseated but not intimidated," he says.

Very Christ-like. Christ said people made him sick when he didn't get to build graven images in town squares without a fight all the time, right?

Sherman is a Chicago resident, so he doesn't have standing, which means he can't sue. However, he says if one person from Marion contacts him he will make sure the case goes to court.

I hope someone does. Not only because it's the right thing to do, but also because those people sound like a bunch of dicks.


No, I Will Not Buy You A Bible


I'm one of those weirdos who actually kind of skims my junk emails before I delete them. I don't open them, but I do read the titles and the first few lines of the emails that get displayed as they're listed in my junk folder. The religious ones catch my attention specifically because every once in a while I get a bit of hate mail because of the blog. This email ended up being a pretty common scam, and it's long and very poorly written, but I enjoyed it enough to want to share. -

Greetings in Jesus name and may this letter finds you blessed in Christ. I am writing you from West Africa and it is a blessing getting to you in the other part of the world. It is my prayer that you become a friend of me and the Local church here.

By His grace I am a believer bought and washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am married with one child. I am a pastor of a small Local church non denominational or affiliated to anybody. The church was founded in 2005 and now has about 40 members. I gave my life to Christ in 1989 when I was in the high in at Jos. A campus fellowship student by name osahon was my room mate at school and his life of faithfulness unto Christ and his prayer and teaching me the Bible led me to Christ. This brother told me then that he sense that God was going to use me for His cause. I was never ready to hear that because my dream was never in the ministry but to finish my studies and get a nice job.

Five years after school and already working I started having the stronger urge and sensing that God was calling me but I kept on putting it off my heart because my job and life was so sweet to me and I felt I needed nothing else. One day a guest speaker was ministering in our church and he singled me out in a crowd of over one thousand and told me that God has called me to the ministry and cannot hide.

After he left I told my pastor that I have accepted and my pastor and other elders of the church prayed with me. I immediately joined and headed the evangelical team of the church and I saw many coming to Christ in the team. I let go off my job in 2004 and returned to Edo state my state. I joined a small Local church and was assisting the pastor.

In June 18 2004, a pastor of a little church of about six families in my area walked up to me telling me that he is leaving the state where the Lord had asked him to go and start the work. He said that he has been praying over a month that the Lord has asked him to tell me to take over the little church. I had not had any relationship with this pastor before now so it amazed me. He asked me to pray to ask the Lord. I did prayed and also told my pastor of this development. He prayed with me and three days later he confirmed that God has asked me to take over the church. That was how I became the Pastor of Full Gospel Church. I have been a pastor here two years ago. The church is a growing church and we meet at a temporary rented building.

Matt.5:16"Let your Light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven".I am writing to appeal for assistance in the area of study Bible which will be of help to me in my research and studies as well as lesson preparation as a pastor. These Bibles are very expensive here. I need a Dakes Annotated Reference Bible or Thompson Chain reference Bible either one of the two. If you cannot get any of these please send me any study Bible which you know has study aids. I would prefer a King James Version. Bibles cost much here as they are imported not printed here.

There are many in our Local church who do not have bibles and cannot afford to buy. I want to specifically make a request for five elderly couples who cannot work and earn money to buy for themselves. They are very devoted. Please on their behalf. I request that you send them 10 bibles the very big letters or super large print would be preferable for them because of their sight. Please used bibles would be appreciated if that is what you can afford. Thank for considering this request. And as you help to meet this kingdom need the Lord will bless your finance abundantly. You can send the bibles through the post office a registered postage of EMS the bibles will get to us safely Ecclesiastes 11:1"Cast the bread upon the waters, for thou shall find it after many days".

The Lord bless you and keep you in His perfect love
In His Service
Brother J***** I*****

First of all, consider the bold bits - it would seem a pastor of a small church in 2004 had this guy take over his congregation - the same congregation he said was founded in 2005. Also, he became pastor in 2004 or six years ago, but has been the pastor for two years.

Also, if this guy really has a special relationship with the Christian god, why did he email me - a jerkwad atheist - who would ultimately post this email online and make fun of its inconsistency and impotency?

Lastly - Those elderly folks sound like they could use something more productive for their survival than a big print bible. This kind of use of the destitute in order to garner sympathy and ultimately donation really bothers me and religious institutions seem to have no problem whatsoever using their saddest cases to the church's benefit. And that little bit about 'And as you help to meet this kingdom need the Lord will bless your finance abundantly' - Yeah, this sounds more like one of those annoying facebook chain letters than an appeal to help out a small, isolated church somewhere in Africa.

Not somewhere - Nigeria. Why does it seem like a good chunk of stupid obvious internet scams are coming out of Nigeria?


Show Me The Ways of Secular Love


Sometimes I imagine Europe as this secular paradise, though I know in many places that's largely untrue. Still, I feel the lack of outrage and indignant tone in this story is unique to overseas media. I'm convinced that if this happened here, any story reporting on it would undoubtedly focus somewhat on the people hurt and offended by what the store did.

What did they do?

Thousands of shoppers unknowingly signed their souls over to a computer-game store after failing to read the terms and conditions on their website.

GameStation added the "immortal soul clause" to online purchases earlier this month stating customers granted them the right to claim their soul.

While all shoppers during the test were given a simple tick box option to opt out, very few did this, which would have also rewarded them with a £5 voucher.

The store claims this shows 88 percent of people do not read the terms and conditions of a website before they make a purchase.

Bosses also say they will not be enforcing their rights and will now email customers nullifying any claim on their soul.


YECs Can Bite My Shiny Metal Ass


Anyone who knows me knows - I don't take kindly to Young Earth Creationists (YECs). Usually I avoid conversations with these kinds of people because I am aware of my own intolerance to them and I don't want to be a big jerkwad, which is usually how I end up acting if I do find myself having a conversation with a YEC. I don't know exactly why, but people who seriously argue that Earth is 4,000 - 10,000 years old and that the bible is a literal account of the creation of both the planet and all life on the planet make me erupt with utter contempt.

That's why, in addition to it being both fascinating and exciting, news like this makes me smile -

Giving new meaning to the phrase "older than dirt," scientists have found evidence of an underground rock reservoir left over from the days when Earth was a ball of magma, a new study says.

Rocks recently found on Canada's Baffin Island erupted as lava from a deep rock reservoir that formed 4.5 billion years ago, when the solar system was new, the study says. The reservoir may hold the world's oldest rock, according to the authors.

Because Earth recycles its building blocks so thoroughly—particularly in the mantle, the layer just below the planet's relatively thin outer crust—no purely primordial material has been found before.

"We've been looking for pieces of the mantle that might have survived the chaotic mixing and churning within the deep Earth," said Boston University geochemist Matthew Jackson. "But until now we haven't seen anything that looks like the original stuff that Earth formed from," added Jackson, who co-authored the study, published today in the journal Nature.

Even better, the newly analyzed rocks—which reached the surface some 62 million years ago—suggest a whole reservoir of the primordial rock could still lie somewhere beneath the Arctic, the study says.

I know, I know - no matter what we find, without some unquestionable, undeniable proof that we understand completely, YECs will always be ready to argue that there are pieces of information missing, therefore the whole of the information is worthless. But the problem is, there are ALWAYS pieces of information missing. That's why the scientific method is such a great tool for people to use to understand the world around them - it establishes criteria for considering information in order for it to be established as evidence for or against a given hypothesis and is able to change at any time with the onset of new information.

I think the biggest problem I have with Young Earth Creationists is that they tend to argue from the position that if everything isn't known, then nothing is known. And so because they follow a religion which feels comfortable assigning arbitrary and often entirely ridiculously illogical explanations to the more difficult questions in life, such as why we're here and how life began, they seem to feel secure in their position because even though their answer seems crazy, they have an answer and that's better than nothing.

Except it isn't better than nothing. My position is that when you don't know, the best response is - I don't know. That seems far more productive, truthful, and all around better than any position where any answer - no matter how truthful - is better than admitting that there are still mysteries regarding existence. And though a YEC might feel comfortable molding their entire understanding of life solely around the wisdom of a tome written by uneducated bronze aged people 2000 years ago, I can't imagine what would make anyone think that this position is one that is strong enough to argue from.

Do these people use medical information that is 2000 years old? No! That would be crazy! So...why get other aspects of science - the same science that makes modern medicine as successful as is is today mind you - from a 2000 year old book?

So, here we go. Bring on the reasons why the dating method used in this instance is flawed, why the scientists who found the rocks have ulterior and sinister secular motives, why the geochemist is wrong and the charismatic Dr. of religious studies is right - eventually there will be enough evidence against Young Earth Creationism that it will fizzle out - then we'll just have those Flat Earthers and the Time Cube guy to worry about, right? Riiiiiight.


Greenwich Mean Time Is Not Determined By The Biggest Clock


This is amazing.

For more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in south-east London has been recognised as the centre of world time and the official starting point of each new day.

But now the supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches.

Due to start ticking on Thursday as the faithful begin fasting during the month of Ramadan, the timepiece sits atop the Royal Mecca Clock Tower which dominates Islam’s holiest city.

It is at the heart of a vast complex funded by the Saudi government that will also house hotels, shopping malls and conference halls.

Bearing a striking resemblance to both St Stephen’s Tower, which houses the bell of Big Ben, and the Empire State Building, the Saudi upstart aims to outdo its revered British rival in every way.

The clock’s four faces are 151ft in diameter and will be illuminated by 2million LED lights along with huge Arabic script reading: “In the name of Allah”. The clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT.

When a glittering spire is added, topped with a crescent to symbolise Islam, the edifice will stand at nearly 2,000 ft, making it the world's second tallest building.

The clock of Big Ben, by comparison, is just 23ft in diameter, while its tower stands at a mere 316ft.

Residents of Mecca will also be reminded that it is time to pray when 21,000 green and white lights, visible at a distance of 18 miles, flash five times a day.

OK, thus far, who cares - they built a big clock to rival other big clocks in yet another silly exercise that amounts to an international game of 'my dick is bigger than yours.' The clock sounds impressive, but also like a bit of a rip off, but really who cares. Wacky people do wacky things. This is where it starts getting good.

But Islamic scholars hope the clock’s influence will stretch far further than the sands of Saudi Arabia, as part of a plan for Mecca to eclipse the Greenwich Observatory as the “true centre of the earth”.

Because, as I'm sure you all know, we determine that by the biggest clock now. Wait, what?

For the past 125 years, the international community has accepted that the start of each day should be measured from the prime meridian, representing 0 degrees longitude, which passes through the Greenwich Observatory.

A standard time by which other clocks were set was needed to organise global travel and communications, but in the Islamic world the idea that it should be centred on a part of London is seen as a colonial anachronism.

As Mohammed al-Arkubi, manager of one of the hotels in the complex, put it: "Putting Mecca time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time. This is the goal."

That sounds incredibly petty and stupid to me. GMT was established simply as a means of standardization around the world. Who cares what area 'gets' to have that time? For 125 years it's been London, for reasons other than it's London, so I don't get the point of trying to change it now. Well, I get the point, but it seems like an entirely petty endeavor and frankly, a huge waste of time and resources. Is there ANY reason we ought to change GMT to the middle east beyond the fact that some guys somewhere want it changed?

According to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric known around the Muslim world for his popular television show "Sharia and Life", Mecca has a greater claim to being the prime meridian because it is "in perfect alignment with the magnetic north."

This claim that the holy city is a "zero magnetism zone" has won support from some Arab scientists like Abdel-Baset al-Sayyed of the Egyptian National Research Centre who says that there is no magnetic force in Mecca.

"That's why if someone travels to Mecca or lives there, he lives longer, is healthier and is less affected by the earth's gravity," he said. "You get charged with energy."

Western scientists have challenged such assertions, noting that the Magnetic North Pole is in actual fact on a line of longitude that passes through Canada, the United States, Mexico and Antarctica.

Haha, so they want GMT to be changed because it's in line with the magnetic north pole, except it really isn't. Also, people in Mecca live longer, healthier lives and are less affected by gravity? Wow. I'll need to see some data, guys, somehow I feel compelled to question your assertions here.

Maybe they've also built a bigger copy of some insidious Western laboratories and therefore feel their "science" ought to be more credible by default as well.


Sit Back and Watch Them Eat Each Other


This hardly seems fair, though it in no way surprises me. Christians in particular often express feelings of discrimination or persecution, which in some cases is valid, but it seems that often they're discriminating and persecuting one another.

Differences in religious belief and biblical interpretation have led a Corona Christian school to dismiss four teachers and seven other employees.

The move spurred some parents to pull their children out of the school and others to defend what they see as a move to protect their kids from spiritually harmful influences.

Most of the fired employees belong to the Catholic Church, which has key teachings that conflict with those of the conservative evangelical Crossroads Christian Schools and the adjacent Crossroads Christian Church, which with about 8,000 members is among the Inland area's largest churches.

Last year, the preschool-through-ninth-grade school -- the school is adding 10th grade this year -- came under the umbrella of the church after about a decade of autonomy. That spurred a closer evaluation of the religious beliefs of the now-dismissed employees, who had been with the school for as long as 22 years, said Beth Frobisher, superintendent of the 583-pupil school.

"How can the school be a ministry of the church if what is spoken and taught into the hearts of the children isn't consistent with what is taught in the church?" Frobisher asked.
It's clear that this guy is alluding to some issue where the kids are being taught things that go against the beliefs of the church. So, how many complaints to that end have their been?
Long [executive pastor of the church] said he had never heard of any complaints of Catholic or other non-evangelical beliefs being introduced into the classroom.
Well, if that's true, it begs the question - is this apparent religious discrimination legal? It would seem that isn't too clear either.

Experts disagree on whether the dismissals were legal. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, said federal and state law prohibit religious-belief requirements in schools, even if, as at Crossroads, religion is infused throughout the entire curricula. The only exception is religious-education classes.

"They can specify they have to teach the subjects in a certain way," Chemerinsky said. "But they cannot discriminate in employment based upon religion. But Thomas Cathey, director of legal/legislative issues for the Colorado-based Association of Christian Schools International, to which Crossroads belongs, said the school falls under a religious-institution exemption in federal law and has a right to hire and fire employees whose religious beliefs aren't in sync with its own.
So I guess my next question is, why did they hire Catholics in the first place? Why is this coming up now?

When hired, employees signed a "statement of faith" that summarizes Crossroads' beliefs. Several fired employees said they saw nothing in the statement they disagreed with. But Crossroads believes that the employees "weren't living out" the statement, Booher said.

The church opened the school in 1979. About 10 years ago, the school became independent of the church. The school did not strictly enforce its rules on employees' religious beliefs and practices until the 2009-10 academic year, after it became a ministry of the church.

"We decided, 'Let's get back to what we always said we believed in,' " said the Rev. Mike Long, executive pastor of the church.
Admittedly, religious groups opting to go backwards seems to be a pretty typical theme.

Booher and Long arrived at Crossroads in 2007. Frobisher became superintendent a year later.

In summer 2009, 12 of about 140 employees were deemed to not be aligned with the statement of faith and Crossroads' teachings. Four were teachers. Others held positions such as teacher aide, after-school playground supervisor and accounting employee.

Employees were first told in August 2009 of the school's closer relationship with the church and a requirement that they attend a "Bible-believing church."

Some employees were unclear about what the new rules meant, and early this year, church and school leaders held meetings that discussed the requirements more explicitly, including a definition of a Bible-believing church as a born-again, Protestant evangelical church. Most employees were allowed to finish the school year.

Former kindergarten teacher Sue Fitzgerald, 55, said she suspected in August that church and school officials were planning to dismiss her and other Catholic employees but she hoped they would eventually change their minds because of her 14 years there. She realized at a January meeting that she would lose her job, she said.

Fitzgerald and other fired employees say they're having a tough time finding new positions. Fitzgerald said she had planned to work at Crossroads until she retired.

"I just loved the sense of family, or what I thought was family," she said.
But Ms. Fitzgerald, it looks like you might be able to get your job back yet -

One teacher who had been raised Lutheran was rehired for the new school year after she underwent a full-immersion baptism, Long said. She now attends Crossroads.

The message this school is sending seems clear - we no longer want diversity of thought. We want our brand of Christan. Considering their brand of Christan seems to be the kind that can rationalize firing a 14 years employed, 55 year old employee at a time when unemployment in incredibly high, I'd be interested to see exactly what Christ these people have decided to worship and emulate.

I'd love to ask the people who run this school how they feel being a minority religious belief. I guarantee, in that case, suddenly those Catholics would be perfectly Christian enough to count.

AaA Episode 9 - Atheism and Star Trek

Woooo! We've already received criticism on this one for being too silly. But, then again, who hasn't been accused as an atheist or free thinker of being too serious? You'll never win them all...

Also, this is my directorial debut, so be kind - I had no clue what I was doing!

If you like the show and do the whole facebook thing, please feel free to "like" us there as well - we appreciate your support!


Billy Graham is a Total Dick


I know, I know - obvious statement is obvious - but sometimes I forget just how big a dick he is, and then he reminds me.

Atheist may be sunny on outside, but feel empty inside

That's a promising title.

The kindest, most thoughtful person I know says she’s an atheist and doesn’t even believe in God. I always thought we needed to believe in God before we’d behave like she does, but I guess this isn’t necessarily true, is it? — S.K.

It makes me sad that someone might actually earnestly ask this question, but I could see it happening. It seems to me this person came to the logical conclusion - the non religious can be just as kind and thoughtful as the religious.

I’m convinced that when a person comes to Jesus Christ and commits his or her life to Him, they will become a better person than they ever were before. If your atheist friend comes to Christ some day, she’ll be an even better person than she is now.

Why is she such a kind and thoughtful person? I don’t know the reason; perhaps she simply has a sunny personality (as some people do), or perhaps her parents taught her to be kind and considerate when she was growing up. But I do know this: She’s not this way because she’s an atheist. In fact, she’s this way in spite of her atheism — because a true atheist has no real reason to believe in right and wrong, or to behave sacrificially toward others.

Oh Billy... I honestly don't see how this guy feels he's in a position to judge others about anything ethical when he makes a living squeezing money out of rubes and the elderly in the name of Jesus. To me, having the qualities and morals that are required to be a televangelist seems far worse than the singular lack of belief in god that makes one an atheist.

Pray for her, that God will open her eyes — not only to His existence, but also to His love for her. And ask God to help you be a witness to her of Christ’s love and transforming power. On the outside, she may seem self-sufficient and indifferent toward God — but inside she may be spiritually empty and searching for inner peace.

Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham...

Or, S.K., you could not listen to the con artist whose job it is to get you to give him money in a religious fit of stupidity, and instead talk to your atheist friend more. See what makes her such a good person. After all, it seems like she's a good person for no reason besides that's who she is. Billy here is only as good as he can play on TV.


AaA Ep. 8 - Childhood Indoctrination




On Symbolism - Why I'm OK With The A


One of the blogs I read regularly is Atheist Revolution. Vjack updates his blog consistently and has a clear way of writing which focuses on news and issues that are relevant to me most of the time. One of his recent posts about the atheist appropriation of the scarlet A as a symbol for atheism, the use of the same symbol by a movie coming out and the possible impact this might have on the atheist community got me thinking about symbols in general, especially my own aversion to them.

If you are unfamiliar with the origins of the scarlet A and atheism, I'll give a quick run down. The scarlet A was a symbol used in Nathaniel Hawthorn's book The Scarlet Letter. The heroine of the story, Hester Prynne, has a child out of wedlock and so she's forced to wear a big red A on her clothing so that others may easily identify her as a evil evil adulteress. Hester is often regarded as a tragic figure who was mistreated and judged because of choices she made in her life which really only affected herself and were made, as you find out in the book, because of what amounts to entirely understandable circumstances.

The atheist use of the A really gained popularity when it as referenced by Dawkins as a way to participate in the OUT campaign:

Stand OUT and organize activities and events in your local area. Join an existing local neighbourhood atheist organization, or start one. Put a bumper sticker on your car. Wear a T-shirt. Wear Josh's red A if you like it as much as I do, otherwise design your own or find one on a website such as http://www.cafepress.com/buy/atheist; or wear no shirt at all, but please don't carp at the very idea of standing up to be counted with other atheists. I admit, I sympathize with those sceptics on this site who fear that we are engendering a quasi-religious conformity of our own. Whether we like it or not, I'm afraid we have to swallow this small amount of pride if we are to have an influence on the real world, otherwise we'll never overcome the 'herding cats' problem.

And it makes sense as a symbol atheists would adopt. Not only is it an obvious choice in a very basic, Sesame Street kind of way (A is for Atheist - muppet dance!) but I think a lot of atheists feel sympathetic to Hester's plight of being judged and largely rejected by the Puritanical society in which she lives because of circumstances that shouldn't matter. I think it's great that atheists have an easily identified symbol that allows them to recognize one another easily, especially in places like the south where being an atheist can seriously negatively affect a person's standard of living.

Still. I don't like it.

I think it may have to do with my own personal history of growing up without religion in a family that was very anti-mindless American pride. My dad was a PTSD afflicted Vietnam vet with, shockingly, issues with the government and people who support the government unquestioningly. I was raised to believe that no symbol is sacred and to question anyone who rallies behind symbols as if they are unassailable. I was raised to believe the ultimate expression of American freedom was to burn the flag because the flag is just a thing and what's really important is what the symbol represents, not the symbol itself.

However, I don't think many atheists are doing this with the symbols floating around out there that are associated with atheism. Maybe it's because the atheist movement hasn't gained enough momentum or maybe it's because atheists tend not to be as indignantly protective of symbolism as religious people or even some of the more intense patriots. As long as atheists continue in this vein, I'll continue to support the use of the scarlet A, the asterisk, the atomic symbol, or whatever people are sporting to make their godlessness known.

So to re-cap: I get why people like it. I'm in no way against it. I'm just not into it.


The Danger of Being an Atheist


I'm obviously an atheist, but I had no idea what a difficult line that is to toe. Luckily my internet pal Philosoraptor turned me on to this alarming list of facts* about me and my fellow godless brethren.

Don't be mad at the atheists. They lead a very difficult life because of their beliefs. Anyone out there who considers themselves an atheist should educate themselves to the facts. I was very sad to read this and feel that we should all do our best to help the atheists:

• Atheists have a significantly higher rate of depression than non-atheist groups.

• Teenagers who identify themselves as atheist have a higher rate of suicide than those who don't.

• The WHO says venereal diseases spread faster among atheistic populations, particularly syphilis, hepatitis and HIV.

• On average, atheists have a 60% higher chance of dying from cancer and a 54% slower recovery rate.

• Married couples where one or both spouses is an atheist experience a higher rate of divorce than those who don't.

• Atheists account for an unusually high percentage of the total number of people who died of AIDS since the 1980s.

• Atheist world leaders are responsible for more total deaths as a result of politically motivated murders and genocides than the deaths of all religious wars combined since the beginning of recorded history.

• On average, atheists earn 35% less in household income per year than non-atheists.

• Atheists have a higher college drop-out rate than non-atheists and score an average 2.03 GPA compared to 3.13 for non-atheists.

• The rate of birth defects is 14% higher among couples who identify themselves as atheists.

• While Catholics top the charts for number of abortions per year, atheists top the charts for the number of miscarriages and infanticide cases, where the mother murdered her baby after it was born.

• Atheists account for a shocking 82% of the number of serial killers in the United States and an even more shocking 90% of those arrested for human cannibalism.

• Of all the cases of treason tried in the United States, 57.6% of those convicted were self-proclaimed atheists... more than Christians, Muslims, Jews, Agnostics and all other religions combined.

• The life expectancy for atheists is 12.03 years shorter than non-atheists.

• Atheists account for a larger percentage of military dishonorable discharges than non-atheists.

• A surprising documentary on PBS public television interviewed people after they saw an actor stage a collapse in the street to try and classify who was most likely to help and who was most likely to ignore the person. They repeated the scenario several hundred times over a period of three years to get a sampling based on age, gender, race, religious affiliation and economic status. In every instance, atheists ranked at the bottom of the list in terms of their willingness to help, unless the victim appeared to be an attractive white woman. They ranked lower than any other group when the victim appeared to be homeless or affiliated with a religion, such as a Hasidic Jew or a priest/nun. The documentary's producers were stunned to find that Christians, Jews and Muslims, in spite of their religious differences, were more inclined to help each other than atheists were inclined to help anybody.

Personally, when I see someone collapse in the street, I pee on them and steal their shit. But damn it, I pee on everyone equally.

*In this case, we're using this definition of fact.


Another Stupid Lawsuit


This news story is ridiculous, but it's also a great example of the expectation some religious people have in regard to their beliefs and world around them. This guy should have never taken a job in public transit if he has religious beliefs that prohibit him from performing his duties.

A Texas bus driver has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming he was fired for his religious beliefs after refusing to transport a client to a Planned Parenthood office, court documents showed Wednesday.

Edwin A. Graning worked for the Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) near Austin, Texas, for less than a year before he was let go in January. At the time, he told his supervisor that, "in good conscience, he could not take someone to have an abortion," according to the lawsuit. Graning is an ordained Christian minister.

(On a side note, anyone can become an ordained minister. Online. For free.)

Planned Parenthood, a health care provider that offers a range of medical services to women, including those related to abortion, often draws the ire of anti-abortion groups in the United States, where the procedure is legal but fiercely controversial.

So it would seem he had no idea why she was going to Planned Parenthood. It could have been for an abortion, but it could have also been for a medical check-up, a counseling appointment, to pick up medication, to take a pregnancy test, or to utilize any number of other services. Planned Parenthood is a pretty busy place. It is not, as some might have you believe, an abortion factory.

He is seeking reinstatement, back pay, and compensatory damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress.

"It's only because he voiced his religions beliefs that he was canned," Edward White III, Graning's lawyer, told CNN. "Employers have a legal responsibility to at least attempt to accommodate an employee's religious beliefs. ... CARTS clearly violated Mr. Graning's religious freedom."

White, who works for a public interest law group founded by evangelical Christian leader Pat Robertson, said CARTS sent a second driver to collect the client and took her and a friend to the Planned Parenthood office.

Uhhhh, no, it is not only because he voiced his religious beliefs - that's just kind of annoying and better kept to yourself. Dude got fired because he refused to do his job. Did no one point this out to you? Oh, wait -

"While others may wish to make more of it, to CARTS this is just about our expectation that employees perform the duties they are hired for," David Marsh, general manager of CARTS, said in an e-mail message to CNN.

In addition to rides along fixed routes, CARTS offers some door-to-door service within its rural coverage area.

The lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for western Texas, Austin Division, was filed on July 14.

I hope this guy doesn't win. I don't see how he could, really. When I worked in a deli, I was a vegetarian, but that didn't mean I had the right to refuse to slice lunch meat. The only way I would have had the right to refuse to do that aspect of my job is if I had told my boss that I was unable to perform that aspect of my position because of those beliefs and was hired anyway with the understanding that I wasn't going to cut any meat. So unless the guy told CARTS that he wasn't able to drive people in some instances because of his religious beliefs, he would have been hired under the pretense that he was able to perform his work duties regardless of what his religious views are.

Even ignoring that, it seems to me the guy didn't actually have any grounds to refuse to do his job even if his religious opposition to abortion was something that legally had to be worked around because he had no way of knowing that's what she was going to Planned Parenthood to have done.


Ask an Atheist Episode 7 - Conspiracy Theories

Here it is, episode 7 of Ask An Atheist!

From the official blog: Case and Mike discuss the nature of conspiracy theories, and why most of them fail the test of evidence.

If you don't check it out, you're just playing into "The Man's" plot to destroy something you care about!!


Why Little Things Matter


I was going to write about this yesterday because It's semi-local and I found it interesting, but then I got distracted by epic personal lameness, so here it is today:

PORT ANGELES -- Tim Davis, a candidate for Clallam County District Court 1 judge, stood in front of a voters-forum audience of 100 people this week and related one of those stories about an electoral opponent that makes the ears perk up.

Davis, a candidate with Pam Lindquist in the Aug. 17 primary, said incumbent Judge Rick Porter had required a potential juror in a DUI trial to pledging to truthfully answer questions about her qualifications to be a juror, "so help you God."

The judge uses the term, asking if the juror so swears, and the juror is expected to answer, "I do."

When the woman objected -- after she was impaneled -- to saying "I do" to the phrase "so help you God," Porter told her to sit in the jury box "all by herself," Davis told the audience, saying Porter's actions were unnecessary and suggesting that Porter humiliated the woman.

"That never, ever happened," Porter responded at the forum Tuesday in Port Angeles.

"This issue, as far as I know, never came up."

Gail Smith of Sequim said Thursday that's exactly that happened to her Feb. 17 as a juror during a one-day driving-under-the-influence trial that Porter presided over.

Only an option

She said she was required to take the oath twice before the trial began despite the state Administrative Office of the Courts and the state Supreme Court saying that the phrase is only an option and not required.

"I had to say it to perform my civic duty," she said.

"I felt consternation, I felt embarrassment, and I felt discriminated against. I was not given the option that the state Supreme Court has given people."

Smith said she continued fuming about having to take the oath after the trial began.

During a break, she wrote a note in the jury room expressing her anger and gave it to the bailiff to give it to Porter, she said.

In the note, she compared the oath to taking an oath that invokes the name of Santa Claus, Smith said.

Her husband was in the courtroom with other trial participants and saw Porter laugh when he read it out loud, Smith said.

Her husband said Porter told the defense attorney and prosecutor that he needed to question Smith to determine if her anger would make her biased, Smith said.

When the jurors returned from lunch, Smith was called out of the jury room by the bailiff.

"I was required to sit alone in front of the defense lawyers, the prosecutor, a deputy sheriff witness, the general public and the defendant's family member while the judge explained to me that the state Supreme Court mandates that he follow, verbatim, certain protocol including the so-help-me-God oath," Smith said.

"He asked if my being upset at having to swear to the oath would taint my ability to be a juror, and I answered no."

She said that part of the oath is in brackets in court rules set out by the state Administrative Office of the Courts, meaning it is optional.

Smith described herself as a secularist, or one who, according to www.mirrian-webster.com ascribes to secularism, or "indifference to or rejection or exclusion of religion and religious considerations."

"I'm a secularist, not an atheist," Smith said. "I challenge church dogma of any sort. It didn't make me any less impartial."

Porter agrees about option

Porter on Thursday agreed that the "so help you God" part of the oath is optional, noting, too, the brackets.

Porter said he vaguely recalled an incident involving a woman who objected to the oath.

He asked if the incident happened two or three years ago, saying it's been a long year.

He said no one is required to say "so help you God."

"I recall there was a lady who told [District Court Administrator Keith Wills] that she was an atheist and didn't want to do that," Porter said of the oath.

"I explained that I was sorry, and it was part of the script. I don't know if it was during the trial or after the trial, I honestly don't know.

"I recall vaguely having a conversation and saying I don't mean to offend you and that's the way the script reads."

Porter said this is the only time anyone has raised an issue with the oath in District Court.

"I'm just amazed that this is that big an issue," Porter said.

As to claiming at the forum, "that never happened," Porter said Thursday he was referring to Davis' characterization of the incident.

"He said I was rude and belittling to her, and that never happened."

It seems to me that this Judge singled this woman out, was kind of a prick to her, she stood up for herself, he was even more of a prick to her, and now he's trying to distance himself from the whole thing because it's nearly election time.

The thing that really gets me about these kinds of stories are the comments. A few of the uglier ones:

Posted by Allen Frank

Criminals hate Judge Porter.
Trial Attorney's hate Judge Porter.
Atheists hate Judge Porter.

Sounds like my kind of Judge.
God Bless you Judge Porter!

Posted by Allen Frank

The latest tactic of the Atheist Progressives is to deny being Atheist; calling themselves "secularists". Sounds better I guess.

"During a break, she wrote a note in the jury room expressing her anger and gave it to the bailiff to give it to Porter, she said.

In the note, she compared the oath to taking an oath that invokes the name of Santa Claus, Smith said."

Equating God with Santa Claus??
Sounds like an Atheist to me!!
Posted by Allen Frank

I never said it wasn't ok for folks to be Atheists.
It's just hysterical that people like Ms. Smith would go out of her way to claim to be a Secularist and not an Atheist....then equate God with Santa. That's the point. We have free will to make choices and are, THANK GOD, free to exercise our Rights. Even make fun of God like Ms Smith did.
I'm pointing out her clear case of HYPOCRISY!
Seems like Ms Smith enjoys being offended so she can lash out her dogma.

Most of the negative comments on the story were posted by this guy, Allen Frank. From what he's written, he's most likely a random harmless troll.

Posted by Lauren Pratt

If someone doesn't take an oath . . . how do u determine if THEY r telling the truth? R there consequences for people who do not take the oath and later are determined to be unethical or a liar???

This is just an epic fail in regard to reading comprehension. She didn't refuse to take the oath, she refused to say the bits having to do with god, which is legally her right.

Posted by Wynn silence

Porter must be doing something right. Because he's got all the drunks and nutjobs mad at him. Oh yeah and the Devil and his crouwd too.

Davis needs to present what he will do different or better than Porter or drop out of the eletion and quit waisting the peoples time with back stabbing.

And the same Go's for Pam Linquist. Both of them sound like they should be in the school district Judge for a day program.

This is probably the most disappointing comment I read. But nothing new or surprising here either.

Look, if a judge had made someone uncomfortable about saying the god bits of an oath, people would be freaking out about the injustice and abuse of power in the situation. It's hard not to feel a little bitter when a good chunk of comments (granted, a healthy portion of those were from ranty Mr. Frank, but still) are essentially saying - well, she's an atheist so good for him.

This is a little thing and it's very tempting to want to distance oneself from this kind of story to avoid the inevitable label of being whiny or petty, but when you let the little things slide, it paves the way for the bigger issues to have just a little more credence. That's why it's important for people to speak up, even for the little things like a religious display at the capital or the words 'Under God' in our pledge and on our money, or a judge using his position of influence to make you feel singled out or your secularism.

Non-religious people, just like any other kind of people, have a right to equal representation. We don't forfeit that when we make the decision to be open about our godlessness. Unfortunately, being a minority group, we have to remind people of that right fairly often and may even have to fight for that right from time to time. That's the burden of knowing what's right and sticking by it, even when society pressures you to conform to something different.